Cartilage is a type of tough, flexible connective tissue that forms parts of the skeleton in many animals.
Cartilage contains cells called chondrocytes, which are surrounded by collagen (a fibrous protein) and proteoglycans, which are made of protein and carbohydrate.
It was once believed that sharks, whose skeletons are made mostly from cartilage, do not develop cancer.
This caused interest in cartilage as a possible treatment for cancer. Although malignant tumours are rare in sharks, cancers have been found in these animals.
A History of the Medical Use of Bovine and Shark Cartilage
- It was first reported that bovine cartilage decreased inflammation (redness, swelling, pain, and feeling of heat) in the 1960s;
- In the 1970s, it was found that bovine cartilage contains a substance that blocks angiogenesis (the forming of new blood vessels). If blood vessel growth into a tumour can be blocked, the tumour will stop growing or shrink.
- By the 1980s, laboratory and animal studies as well as clinical trials (research studies in people) testing bovine cartilage as a treatment for cancer were being conducted.
Interest in using shark cartilage grew because it was believed that shark cartilage may be more active than bovine cartilage in preventing new blood vessels from being formed. Since a shark’s skeleton is made mostly of cartilage, shark cartilage is more plentiful than bovine cartilage.
- It was first published that shark cartilage contains a substance that blocks blood vessel growth in the 1980s
- Reports of clinical trials of shark cartilage as a treatment for cancer were published between 1998 and 2005
Cartilage Therapy as a Complementary Therapy
Cartilage from cows (bovine cartilage) and sharks have been studied as a treatment for people with cancer and other medical conditions for more than 30 years.
There are three theories as to how cartilage acts against cancer: As cartilage is broken down by the body, it releases products that kill cancer cells. Cartilage increases the action of the body’s immune system to kill cancer cells.
Cartilage makes substances that block tumour angiogenesis (the growth of new blood vessels that feed a tumour and help it grow).
Laboratory and animal studies show that because cartilage does not contain blood vessels, cancer cannot easily grow in it.
It is suggested that a cancer treatment using cartilage may keep blood vessels from forming in a tumour, causing the tumour to stop growing or even to shrink.
Read more about how Cartilage Therapy is administered, Possible Side-effects and Risks etc., on our static Complementary & Alternative Therapies page, Cartilage (Bovine & Shark) Therapy
Please note that the Little Fighters Cancer Trust shares information regarding various types of cancer treatments on this blog merely for informational use. LFCT does not endorse or promote any specific cancer treatments – we believe that the public should be informed but that the option is theirs to take as to what treatments are to be used.
Always consult your medical practitioner prior to taking any other medication, natural or otherwise.