Shark skeleton is made of cartilage, which is a dense form of connective tissue. This cartilage is dried and powdered to create a nutritious dietary supplement. It is believed to have health and healing benefits, and has been in use since the ancient Roman times. Shark cartilage is composed of proteins, calcium, collagen, sulfur, and mucopolysaccharides.
The notion that shark cartilage aids in curing cancer was widely popularized by a misconception that arose from Dr. William Lane's best-selling book Sharks Don't Get Cancer, in 1992. Lane further promoted his claim on CBS TV's 60 Minutes. The basis of his claim was a televised footage of a Cuban study of allegedly terminal cancer patients, who received shark cartilage preparations and were known to feel better.
Scientists world over have contradicted this myth. According to them, sharks do get cancer, even in the cartilage, but it's a rare occurrence. Dr. Gabriel Feldman, MD, director of prostate and colorectal cancer for the American Cancer Society opines, "Scientists have believed for over 35 years that since sharks do not appear to develop as much cancer as humans, there may be something in their systems that protects them from getting cancer." In 1997, the American Society of Clinical Oncology reported a study that found shark cartilage ineffective against advanced cancer in adults.
Shark Cartilage Benefits
Shark cartilage is presumed to be full of health benefits and a large market has been created for shark cartilage products as a "cancer treatment." The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not support these claims and has listed shark cartilage as a dietary food supplement. Possible benefits from the low-molecular-weight molecules that shark cartilage contains are currently being researched. Given below are the various health benefits of this dietary supplement.
✔ Helps in Fighting Cancer
It is believed that shark cartilage has certain substances that inhibit the growth of new blood cells that nurture and encourage cancer growth. In doing so, it cuts off the blood flow to cancerous tumors, and result in their shrinkage, thus protecting the damage of healthy surrounding tissues. It is typically known to control breast, ovarian, cervical, pancreatic or prostate cancers, as they depend on a system of blood vessels to survive.
✔ Has Anti-inflammatory Properties
Shark cartilage helps to minimize inflammation and pain in the joints. It is known to reduce severe pain or joint dysfunction. An inflammation of the bowel lining, enteritis is believed to be treated by Dr. Lane and Dr. Prudden, using shark cartilage.
✔ Provides Relief from Arthritis
The abnormal growth of tiny capillaries that destroy the cartilage present in joints, and subsequent pain and joint destruction in arthritis, is believed to be controlled by intravenous and oral dosages of shark cartilage. The cartilage works in the same manner it does to fight cancer, i.e. by inhibiting the growth of these blood vessels, thereby regressing abnormal tiny capillaries.
✔ Helps in Diminishing Psoriasis
It is believed that psoriasis symptoms of skin thickening and shedding depend on the abnormal formation of capillaries. The shark cartilage stalls the growth of these capillaries (blood vessels), and causes the abnormal tiny capillaries to decrease.
✔ Acts as an Immune Booster
As shark cartilage supplement is rich in proteins and calcium, it can be consumed to help boost immunity. Diseases which are related to changes in the large molecule are treated with shark cartilage, as it contains mucopolysaccharides. It helps to heal asthma, poison oak, eczema, emphysema, and hemorrhoids.
✔ Protects the Digestive System
Intestinal walls being one of the main components of the digestive system have to go through constant wear and tear because of the entire process of digestion. Toxins and free radicals present along with the food contribute to the damage. Shark cartilage helps in protecting, repairing, and rebuilding intestinal walls for better functioning.
✔ Helps in Treating Glaucoma
Glaucoma is a serious disease affecting the eyes, which can also lead to loss of vision due to optic nerve damage. This damage is mostly due to rise in intraocular pressure. Shark cartilage protects eyes by controlling the rising pressure in the eyes.
Though under research for its healing and medicinal properties, shark cartilage has grown popular over years and believed to help in treating diseases as an alternate medicine. But it is advisable to consult a physician before beginning its consumption as a supplement.
Written by Loveleena Rajeev