For years people believed that Shark Cartilage can be used as a supplement for treating cancer. However, scientists across the globe have always fervently denied this benefit of shark cartilage. To know more about shark cartilage, its other benefits and the myth/reality related to cancer treatment read the following article on this subject.
What Is Shark Cartilage?
Shark Cartilage has been used in humans since the ancient Roman period. This dietary supplement consists of protein, calcium, sulfar, muco-polysaccharides and collagen. However, the major components of Shark Cartilage are protein and carbohydrate related – proteoglycans and glycoproteins.
Cartilage is found in the skeletal system of some living organisms including that of humans and shark. Cartilage is nothing but a dense form of connective tissue. Shark’s skeletal system in fact is completely made up of cartilage. Shark cartilage is taken from the fins and heads of fresh sharks caught from the ocean. It is then dried, powdered and marketed as a dietary supplement. Supplements made from shark cartilage are many in the market, including popular brands such as Carticin, Benefin and Cartilade. The popularity of shark cartilage is due to the belief that it has the ability to prevent and treat cancer in humans.
Does It Treat Cancer?
According to scientists around the world shark cartilage does not have any extra-ordinary powers to treat cancer cells. However, inspite of scientific evidences many still believe that shark cartilage can treat cancer. It all started in the 1990’s when Dr William Lane in his best selling book ‘Shark Don’t Get Cancer’ wrote that shark cartilage can be used in humans to treat cancer patients. According to Dr William Lane sharks do not get cancer. However, according to majority of scientists sharks rarely but do get cancer.
Once the book was released clinical studies were conducted one after the other and claimed unanimously that shark cartilage does not treat cancer. It was also found that the protein molecule found in shark cartilage never gets absorbed in our intestine, and goes out of our system with out any processing. Another group of scientists parallely held the belief that there is something in the system of Sharks that protects it from getting cancer (unlike humans). The new generation sharks do get cancer frequently but it can be attributed to the recent harsh changes in the environment.
How Does It Work Then?
Those who support the usage of shark cartilage for cancer treatment do so in the belief that it helps in stopping the process of angiogenesis. Angiogenesis is a process that helps the tumor cells in growing its own blood vessels for its growth and multiplication. When the process of angiogenesis is stopped (by using shark cartilage) the tumor is deprived of its only source of nourishment and slowly dies.
Thus, a section of the population and supporters of shark cartilage still would like to believe that shark cartilage has anti- angiogenesis agents that can help fight the following types of cancer in humans – breast, ovarian, cervical, pancreatic and prostate. According to them, shark cartilage supplements in liquid form gets easily absorbed in our intestine. However, as explained earlier not many scientists are ready to accept this theory.
Benefits Of Shark Cartilage
Apart from the claim that Shark cartilage based supplements help in treating cancer, it can be used for the following other conditions in humans:
For Treating Arthritis
Many would also like to believe that shark cartilage can be used for treating some of the symptoms associated with arthritis in humans.
Source : http://hebertvillestation.com/arthritis-pain-relief/natural-remedies-for-arthritis
The shark cartilage controls the abnormal growth of capillaries in the cartilage present in the joints of humans. This is based on the same anti- angiogenesis theory related to cancer treatment. More clinical studies are needed to validate this claim.
For Treating Inflammation
Few scientists claim that shark cartilage has the ability to reduce inflammation and pain in the joints and in the bowel lining.
For Treating Psoriasis
Psoriasis occur in humans due to the formation of capillaries that lead to skin thickening and skin shedding. And shark cartilage is known to reduce the formation of such abnormal and tiny capillaries.
For Boosting Immunity
Shark cartilage is rich in proteins, calcium and muco-polysaccharides. All these components help in boosting the immunity levels in humans and protecting them against asthma, hemorrhoids, eczema etc.
For Treating Glaucoma
Source : http://www.glaucoma.org.au/what.htm
Another benefit of shark cartilage promoted by its proponents is that it can be used to control the rising intraocular pressure in the eyes due to Glaucoma.
Dosage levels ranging from 50 to 100 mg per day have been used without any noticeable side effects. However, few studies claim that shark cartilage works only in recommended high dosage levels (7-10 grams).
Side Effects & Overdose
Source : http://www.dizziness-and-balance.com/treatment/drug/emesis.html
Possible side effects include – nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, constipation etc. Taking high doses of shark cartilage may aggravate hypercalcemia in humans.
As with all dietary supplements shark cartilage must be avoided in pregnant and breast feeding women. Some studies claim that shark cartilage has toxic compounds that may lead to Alzheimer disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. It must also be avoided in heart patients, liver patients, those with low WBC count, and those prone to sea food allergies, children, body builders or those undergoing any form of surgeries in the immediate future due to its anti-angiogenesis property.
Shark cartilage has always remained a controversial topic in the scientific community. The FDA along with the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) was involved in penalizing many manufacturers of Shark cartilage supplements due to the many unproven claims made by them related to cancer treatment. Only those supplements that do not make any excess claims regarding treating cancer are currently allowed in the market.
Supplements are available in powder, capsules and in liquid form in the market. Liquid shark cartilage supplements are more effective based on a few studies. Shark cartilage is related to Chondroitin. Shark Cartilage is not an essential nutrient for the humans hence there is no question of any deficiency arising because of its absence in the human diet. Even though shark cartilage is a popular supplement more research is needed on it to accept its many benefits.
Not known due to the lack of related clinical studies.