Shark Cartilage and Cancer ~ Health Guide

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Shark Cartilage and Cancer

Written by Mystic on Sunday, August 10, 2008

Rationale / Background / Claims

  • In 1971, Dr Judah Folkman published a hypothesis regarding tumour growth which stated:

Tumours cannot grow without a network of blood vessels to nourish them and to remove waste products.


Inhibiting the development of new blood vessels (angiogenesis) in tumours may be a potential anti-cancer therapy.

  • As cartilage does not contain blood vessels, it was reasoned that it may have an inherent mechanism for preventing angiogenesis. Supporters believe that a protein present in the cartilage is responsible for this action.
  • The cartilage theoretically should be most effective against fast-growing, highly vascularised tumours, such as those of the breast, cervix, central nervous system and liver.
  • The number of cancers found in sharks is quoted as being insignificant.

What does the therapy involve?

  • Shark cartilage is available as either pills or loose powder. Powdered cartilage can be taken either orally or rectally.
  • Depending on a person’s weight, the dosage could range from 40g to 90g per day.
  • When taken orally in the form of the powder, it is mixed with either water, milk, vegetable juice (eg carrot, tomato) or with a fruit nectar (eg pineapple, apricot). The powder is mixed with the juice in a blender to produce a frothy shake. These shakes are consumed three to four times daily, usually 30 minutes prior to meals. Theoretically, when taken on an empty stomach, the drink passes rapidly through the stomach acids, thus avoiding breakdown of the active proteins.

Here are some cautions for a person with cancer regarding shark cartilage

  • Children and pregnant women should not take shark cartilage because if the cartilage does work as an inhibiter of blood vessels it could adversely affect growing children and the growing foetus.
  • Those who have had recent surgery should not take shark cartilage because it can theoretically impair healing.
  • Avoid shark cartilage enemas if you are neutropenia (have low white blood cell count). You can induce a life threatening infection.
  • Some shark cartilage may contain additives, fillers and contaminants.
  • Shark cartilage can cause diarrhoea which can affect the patient’s ability to tolerate conventional cancer treatments.


Human trials on the effectiveness of shark cartilage in the treatment of cancer were conducted in Cuba. The study initially reported that patients “felt better” several weeks after starting on shark cartilage. This study was however later reviewed by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) which felt the data was incomplete. A subsequent study was reported at the American Society for Clinical Oncology in 1997. Patients with advanced cancer were given shark cartilage for twelve weeks. Of the fifty eight patients treated there was not one complete response or partial response to shark cartilage. Only two patients had a significant improvement in quality of life. There are currently some ongoing studies of shark cartilage at a number of institutions but no positive trials have been published in scientific literature.

Costs and Commitment

The cost is approximately $90 for 400 capsules, or $100 for 200g of powder.

In Summary . . .

Studies performed on shark cartilage at the National Cancer Institute in America have not demonstrated that shark cartilage is effective as a treatment for cancer.

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