Chinese have been consuming shark cartilage in the form of shark fin soup for hundreds of years. Shark cartilage has been used medicinally since the 1950s for treatment of many conditions, including the pain and swelling associated with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, and for arthritis prevention.
Squalene, which is isolated from shark stomachs, has been used in skin therapy, wrinkle prevention, and scar healing. It is also believed to have antibiotic activity against protozoa, fungi, and gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria.
Angiogenesis, “the formation of new capillary blood vessels from pre-existing ones”, is required for solid tumors to grow. Inhibition of angiogenesis may either decrease the size or totally eliminate the tumor. Since cartilage is avascular tissue, and because the shark endoskeleton is composed almost entire1y of cartilage, it is believed to be a potent angiogenesis inhibitor and therefore a potential agent in the treatment of cancer.
Shark cartilage is “obtained from freshly caught sharks, and then cleaned, shredded, and dried. It is ground to a fine powder, sterilized, and encapsulated”
Chondroitin sulfates are the primary constituents of shark cartilage.
IN VITRO EFFECTS AND ANIMAL STUDIES
The use of shark cartilage as an antineoplastic agent is based on its antiangiogenie effects. One study evaluated the antiangiogenie activity of shark cartilage, tumor necrosis factor-a (TNF-a), and a combination of the two using a human umbilical vein endothelial cell proliferation assay. Although shark cartilage does not seem to be directly cytotoxic to tumor cells, use of TNF-a is limited because of severe toxicity with systemic administration; thus the two were tested in combination because of possible synergie effects related to different mechanisms of action.
Evaluation of the effects of shark cartilage
Boron neutron capture therapy of the rat 9L gliosarcoma:
It was concluded that shark cartilage, when given alone, significantly increased the survival time of tumour-bearing rats, presumably owing to an anti-angiogenic effect. However, the survival data suggested that boronophenylalanine-mediated BNCT did not appear to be enhanced by the administration of shark cartilage.
Is It Effective?
Natural Medicines rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.
Probably Ineffective for …
- Cancer. Taking shark cartilage by mouth does not benefit people with advanced, previously treated cancers, including breast, colon, lung, prostate, and brain cancer.
There is interest in using shark cartilage for a number of other purposes, but there isn’t enough reliable information to say whether it might be helpful.