It is estimated that a hundred million sharks are killed each year by fishermen and hunters. Fishermen have long been actively targeting sharks for their skin, meat, fins and the oil that is found in their liver. Recently, the shark cartilage has been introduced as a new possible natural remedy used in the treatment of cancer. Even more sharks are getting killed each year to make this food supplement. The killing of the sharks is a serious ecological problem as it disturbs the natural order of the various species and the way that they interact with and influence one another. However, is this for a higher reason or not?
Shark cartilage and cure for cancer
Sharks are somewhat special in the animal kingdom, as they actually don’t have bones. Shark’s skeleton is completely made out of cartilage. Cartilage is a flexible and connective tissue that forms a skeleton in animals. It normally contains chonocrocytes cells surrounded with collagen and proteoglycans. For many years, people believed that sharks cannot develop cancer. Scientists also believed that sharks are immune to this disease and started to pay more attention to shark cartilage as a possible cure for cancers.
The basic belief was that products made of shark cartilage may strengthen the immune system and kill cancerous cells. A major study was conducted in the 1970s and 80s, and researchers first described laboratory and animal studies and clinical trials testing shark cartilage as a treatment for cancer. The study revealed that shark cartilage has the ability to block the formation of the new blood vessels and thus prevent the growth of cancer. The study had very good results on animals, but there was no effect in humans.
Is shark cartilage a cure for cancer?
Comprehensive scientific studies revealed that sharks also suffer from cancers. Even though malignant tumors are uncommon in sharks, cancers have been found in these animals. Moreover, none of the clinical trials and scientific studies has found solid evidence that shark cartilage products are helpful in treatment of cancer. Also, one scientific study published in 2005 dismissed the possibility of using shark cartilage as a cure cancer and proclaimed it’s a myth.
Even if there is no evidence for health benefits of shark cartilage, people are still using and buying these products. In addition, let us just note that companies that make cartilage products may not have a process in place to check that all batches they make are exactly the same. This means different batches of a cartilage product may contain different quantities of ingredients.