Does shark cartilage really work?


Many people believe that shark cartilage helps fight cancer and that it offers multiple health benefits. Indeed, shark cartilage (SC) contains collagen and proteins, such as proteoglycans and glycoproteins that have a positive impact on your health. While preliminary studies suggest that SC has some health benefits, very few clinical trials have actually demonstrated that it may have anti-cancer benefits.

Furthermore, SC supplementation may trigger adverse effects, such as fatigue, fever, low blood pressure, nausea, and indigestion. The shark cartilage that is used in supplements is the dried up, powered form of actual shark cartilage and it is often used in alternative medicine. SC is said to do the following:

  • have anti-inflammatory properties
  • help with joint pain and stiffness
  • prevent and/or control arthritis
  • alternative treatment for cancer
  • treatment for psoriasis


Shark Cartilage Benefits


The purified anti-angiogenic compounds from shark cartilage, such as U-995 and neovastat (AE-941), are believed to be the most beneficial factors of shark cartilage. In one study, AE-941 was found to have both anti-angiogenic and anti-inflammatory properties. An anti-angiogenic is a substance that inhibits the growth of new blood vessels, while an anti-inflammatory keeps the body from being inflamed.

It also stops swelling and keeps inflammation from causing more internal damage. Inflammation is the body’s natural response to a lot of things, such as injuries and disease. It’s also the source of a lot of pain and internal damage. SC works to fight off inflammation and it’s also angiogenic, but there’s not enough data to say that SC is a cure for any alignment, such as arthritis, cancer, or psoriasis. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has taken legal action against several companies who sell shark cartilage products as a cure for cancer.


Shark Cartilage Contamination


One of the reasons why shark cartilage became quite popular is its high calcium content. However, shark cartilage contains the highest means of cadmium and mercury. It can also lead to a calcium overload in your blood, especially if you take other calcium supplements. This can have a major negative impact on your health.

Because SC comes from actual sharks in the ocean, there’s a chance of it being contaminated with mercury and other toxic chemicals. This is because it’s primarily fished in heavy traffic areas with a lot of chemical waste. This contamination problem is one of the reasons why there’s not that much research data on SC.

For example, the NCI halted its own research on cartilage supplements because the preparations were contaminated. Shark cartilage cannot be recommended to treat any condition, due to the limited research. For chronic conditions or major diseases, such as cancer, it is best to consult your physician for professional medical advice. Using SC to treat cancer or other conditions may have severe consequences.




Shark cartilage is simply not worth the risk. There are plenty other supplements out there that have anti-inflammatory properties and that help treat joint pain. Children and pregnant women are strongly advised to avoid SC because it slows down the normal growth of children and fetuses. Additionally, people who are recovering from a surgery or an injury should avoid this supplement, because it slows down healing and rehabilitation.

There is not enough research on the long-term effects of shark cartilage supplementation. While some people can tolerate it in small doses, most people deal with the side effects of SC supplementation. These include nausea, low blood pressure, dizziness, abdominal cramps, fever, and fatigue. If you are considering shark cartilage as a supplement, it is best to consult your physician first. Avoid the risk of mercury contamination and experiencing the negative side effects by asking your medical care provider to prescribe you the right supplements for you.


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