The long-held widely circulated belief that sharks do not get cancer will not sink, despite the fact that marine biologists have known that sharks do get cancer first noted at least 150 years ago! This latest shark cancer discovery was noted in Scientific American just days ago, and is the first case of a Great White Shark with cancer.
Don’t Get Suckered By The Shark Tale! Sharks DO Get Cancer
A tumor on the mouth of a Great White shark was noted by researchers as the first of the Great White species to be documented , now totaling 23 species of sharks that have been diagnosed with confirmed cases of cancer. Researchers discovered a hard to miss tumor measuring 1 foot by 1 foot on the head of a Bronze Whaler Shark, also added to the shark species cancer cases archive, published in the November issue of the Journal of Fish Diseases (Wiley Online Library).
The urban myth that sharks don’t get cancer has largely been fueled in part by the homeopathic health industries who swear by a shark cartilage regimen to reduce the chances of getting cancer. While that fact has been widely disproved by the medical community it is loosely based on misleading (not erroneous) scientific information.
The lack of documented research to dispute the cancer prevention claims is part of the problem, along with the rarity of cancer in sharks. Of the 1,168 species of sharks in our oceans, now 23 species have been found to get cancer or have cancerous tumor growths. Since the Great White shark with cancer is the first documented case, many believe the increases are related to pollutants in our oceans.Fishing for sharks, both legal and illegal is rising to threatening levels for many shark species, which are pieced out for their most valuable parts (fins and cartilage), the rest is discarded back into the ocean. Unlike with dolphins who are considerably “cuter” than sharks, the public outrage for illegal fishing practices has been virtually silent.
Also noted in this study were the rising levels of documented cancers in all marine mammals over the last two decades, reporting that in fact, cancer is the second leading cause of death in whales.