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Cartilage is a tough connective tissue found in many parts of the body. Your ears and nose are made from cartilage, and so is the gliding surface in your joints.
One constituent of cartilage, chondroitin , is widely used in Europe to treat osteoarthritis. Cartilage itself has also been proposed as a treatment for osteoarthritis.
The most commonly used forms of cartilage come from cows (bovine cartilage) and sharks. Provocative evidence had suggested that shark cartilage might have some value in the treatment of cancer. However, properly designed studies have so far failed to find benefit.
Based on the belief that sharks don't get cancer, shark cartilage has been heavily marketed as a cure for cancer . While this justification is a myth (sharks do get cancer), shark cartilage has, in fact, shown some promise for cancer treatment. Shark cartilage (like other forms of cartilage) contains substances that tend to inhibit angiogenesis (the growth of new blood vessels). Since cancers must build new blood vessels to feed themselves, this effect might be beneficial. Double-blind, placebo-controlled studies on special formulations of shark cartilage for the treatment of cancer are now underway. It has also been suggested that the anti-angiogenic properties of shark cartilage may make it helpful for psoriasis , but this hypothesis has not yet undergone proper study. 1 Shark...
Because cartilage is just common, ordinary gristle, it is presumably safe to consume. However, for reasons that are not at all clear at this time, there is a report of an individual who developed liver inflammation after taking shark cartilage supplements. 2 He recovered fully when the supplements were discontinued.