| HOPE - The Alternative
Medicine Newsletter for Cancer Patients Vol. 2 No. 8 August 1998
Q & A about shark cartilage products and their applications
by Jeff Blackwood
Dr. Joseph Cyr, M.D., L.M.C.C., practiced medicine
for over 48 years and specialized in surgery for 25 years In different cities of Canada
and in the U.S. namely Texas, California and Maine. He is now based in the U.S. where he
is a member of the American College for Advancement in Medicine and still seeing patients.
Since 1993, Dr. Cyr has witnessed several beneficial effects of different kinds of dietary
supplements including liquid cartilage extract with the patients he is following up. Most
commonly asked questions were collected from a HOPE popular survey about shark cartilage
products and were addressed to Dr. Cyr.
1) HOPE: What is so specific to cartilage? Is
there anything magic about shark cartilage?
DR. CYR: This is a very relevant question. My
answer to that will be twofold. First, what is cartilage? Cartilage is a very specialized
tissue found in different animal species. In adult mammals, cartilage represents less than
1% of total body weight. From a functional point of view, cartilage is what constitutes
the whitish cushion that coats bone extremities. Cartilage thus plays a primordial
protective role during the movement of the articulation. Cartilage is avascular, meaning
that it is deprived of blood vessels. It consists mainly of collagen fibers intermingled
mannered like a rope.
This arrangement of collagen fibers provides the
strength and resiliency features of cartilage. Cartilage is known to contain two major
antiangiogenic agents that prevent formation of
blood vessels and inhibitors of collagenases, enzymes that digest collagen fibers. The
high content of antiangiogenic agents in cartilage prompted its utilization as an ideal
source of antiangiogenic molecules that can be extracted in a liquid form.
In sharks, cartilage makes up all the skeletal
structures. I do not believe, however, that there is anything specific to shark in term of
antiangiogenic activity. In fact, scientific literature reports molecules having
antiangiogenic activity that were isolated from shark as well as from bovine species. The
main reason why shark was chosen as a source resides in the fact that cartilage represents
approximately 6% to 8% of its body weight. Sharks therefore represent an abundant source
of cartilage in the biomass.
2) HOPE: There is a popular belief that
"sharks don't get cancer". Is it related to the antiangiogenic characteristics
of its cartilage?
DR. CYR: It is true that sharks have a unique
ability to resist diseases and also have a low incidence of tumors. Sharks are among the
oldest survivors on earth suggesting they are endowed with a very distinctive physiology.
Whether or not the antiangiogenic activity of their cartilage is involved is not known.
However, it is likely that the highly effective immune system of sharks plays a pivotal
role in their overall health. In fact, several tissues of sharks are being investigated
for their content in potentially therapeutic substances.
3) HOPE: The market of shark cartilage
products seems to be overloaded by different brands of powders. What do the shark
cartilage powders consist of?
DR. CYR: Most of the products on the market
are powder preparations of shark cartilage. Depending upon the manufacturing method used,
cartilage powder results from the drying of raw material using heat to evaporate the water
that is naturally present in cartilage. .Then, the dry material is pulverized into powder,
Cartilage powder can be sterilized by using
radiation or oxydizing gas, treatments potentially
harmful to biological substances. Shark cartilage powder comes in bulk or in the form of
capsules. Recommended daily doses for shark cartilage powder preparations can be up to 150
grams ( two hundred 750 mg capsules or more than a cup) for a 150 pound individual. Such
quantities can represent up to 30 times the US recommended daily allowance in calcium.
4) HOPE: Is there alternatives to shark
cartilage powders or other innovations commercially available?
DR. CYR: Yes. In fact, a Canadian company has
developed a liquid extract isolated from cartilage. Liquid cartilage extract and cartilage
powder are both derived from the same biological source which is shark cartilage. However,
liquid cartilage extract greatly differs from powder preparations based on the
manufacturing process. Liquid cartilage extract is prepared in a way by which substances
always remains in their natural aqueous environment and are kept at low temperature
conditions during the manufacturing process. No deleterious enzymatic or chemical
treatments are used during the process. An ultrafiltration step is added to recuperate
active fractions. The liquid nature of this extract allows filtration through a second set
of sterile microporous membranes. On a physiological point of view, it is important to
point out that liquid cartilage extract is low in calcium and contains substances that are
water soluble readily assimilable by the organism.
5) HOPE: You mentioned that one of the
features of cartilage is the presence of inhibitors of angiogenesis. What is exactly
DR. CYR: Antiogenesis is the formation of new
blood vessels from preexisting ones. It is a complex process during which several cellular
and molecular mechanisms are involved. Briefly, an external signal - such as inflammation
-will activate collagenases, special collagen-eating enzymes we have talked about earlier,
to create a breach into the wall of a mature blood vessel. Endothelial cells -the main
cellular component of blood vessels - will escape from that breach and lead the
angiogeneses process. This newly formed "blood vessel bud" will grow and, along
its path, will enlarge its diameter and form ramifications. Eventually, a new functional
blood vessel network will be established allowing blood to transport oxygen and nutrients
to tissues and cells in need. Antiangiogenic products have the ability to inhibit the
process ofangiogenesis thus preventing unwanted formation of blood vessels,
6) HOPE: The liquid cartilage extract clearly
seems more convenient to use but does it really contain antiangiogenic activity?
DR. CYR: The antiangiogenic activity of the
liquid cartilage extract has been scientifically proven. The liquid cartilage extract was
tested for its antiangiogenic activity using different established experimental models.
The in vitro antiangiogenic activity was verified in the laboratory using the embryonic
vascularization test, an improved variant of the CAM assay. In this test, blood vessels
developing externally to a chick embryo and invading the yolk bringing nutrients to the
embryo are used as experimental blood vessels. Deposition of a sample of the liquid
cartilage extract on a specific area at the surface of the yolk results in an inhibition
of blood vessel formation. This demonstrates that the liquid cartilage extract contains an
Furthermore, the bioavailibility of the
antiangiogenic activity contained in the liquid cartilage extract was demonstrated in a
human clinical trial. The liquid extract was administered orally to healthy volunteers on
a daily basis fora period of 11 days. Quantities tested were 7ml and 21m1. In this study,
an inert sponge was implanted subcutaneously and acted as a matrix for endothelial cell
invasion within the sponge is indicative of an antiangiogenic activity. Results obtained
in this trial revealed a statistically significant reduction of endothelial cell invasion
within the subcutaneous sponge thereby demonstrating the bioavailibility of the
antiangiogenic activity contained in the liquid cartilage extract after oral
7) HOPE: Medical reports published in
newspapers or specialized magazines often associate angiogenesis to diseases such as
cancer and rheumatoid arthritis. Is angiogenesis an illness?
DR. CYR: Angiogenesis is not always linked to
pathological conditions. In fact, angiogenesis is predominantly a normal physiological
phenomenon which occurs in response to ovulation in adulthood. However, it is now well
recognized that angiogenesis can also exacerbates several diseases currently termed as
angiogenesis-dependant diseases. Approximately 20 angiogenesis-dependant diseases have
been identified so far. The formation of new blood vessel is observed in such diseases as
cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, in psoriasis and in a form of degenerative disease affecting
retina in elderly. Angiogenesis is also closely linked to the etiology of hemangioma,
hypertrophic scarring, keloids, warts, periodontitis, sclerodermia, neovascularization of
corneal grafts and neovascular glaucoma. In those cases, angiogenesis is very often
closely associated to the severity of the diseases. For instance, a tumor will grow not
bigger than a few millimeters in diameter without the support of blood supply. Tumor
cells, in need for nutrients and oxygen, will emit signals to trigger the angiogenic
process and attracting blood vessel formation in the direction of the weakening tumor.
Tumor angiogenesis will bring nutrients and oxygen to tumor cells thereby promoting tumor
growth and metastasis.
8) HOPE: Since angiogenesis is so important
for the progression of the so-called angiogenesis-dependant diseases, does the
pharmaceutical industry put efforts in developing drugs capable of inhibiting
DR. CYR: Pharmaceutical research in the field
of angiogenesis inhibitors is very active. Several pharmaceutical companies have developed
inhibitors ofangiogenesis and some of them are already being investigated in human
clinical trials to verify their efficacy in angiogenesis-dependant disease. Interestingly,
several of these products are derived from natural sources like fungi, bacteria, shark
liver and shark cartilage. It is expected that angiogenesis inhibitors will be used as
first line therapy in diseases such as solid tumors, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and
other pathologies complicated by the phenomenon of angiogenesis.
9) HOPE: What is the best quantity of liquid
cartilage extract to be administered for in specific situations?
DR. CYR: This question is very appropriate
and justified for users of the product In a healthy body, angiogenesis (formation of blood
vessels) and angiogenesis inhibition (inhibition of blood vessel formation) phenomena
exist within a constant equilibrium. This angiogenesis equilibrium, or homeostasis, is
tightly controlled and strictly delimited. Dr .Judah Folkman has put forward an
interesting theory to explain the body's balance between factors promoting angiogenesis
and angiogenesis inhibitors. This delicate angiogenesis homeostasis is obligatory to
fulfill the needs for blood vessel formation in response to physiological demands while
preventing uncontrolled pathological angiogenesis. When the angiogenesis equilibrium gets
disturbed, it is very often in favor of uncontrolled angiogenesis.
We have discussed previously about the
bioavailibility of the antiangiogenic activity of the liquid cartilage extract after oral
administration of 7ml or 21ml/day. Adding the liquid cartilage extract to your diet as per
the recommended dose could thus help in replenish the pool of angiogenesis inhibitor
factors and re-establish the angiogenesis equilibrium. It is also believed that the
severity of any angiogenesis-dependant disease is linked in some ways to the degree of the
angiogenesis disequilibrium. Appropriate doses can therefore be individualized according
to the specific needs and adjusted depending upon health condition.
10)HOPE: What should someone expect from
adding the liquid cartilage extract to its diet?
DR. CYR: Because of its proven biological
activity and its bioavailibility, the liquid cartilage extract can benefit to individuals
for which the angiogenesis homeostasis is perturbed. In doing so, individuals in needs
provide their organism with the weapons that can help to fight against dehabilitating
conditions. During years, I have been seeing patients using the liquid cartilage extract
and have documented several clinical cases for which concrete benefits were obtained after
oral administration of the liquid cartilage extract. Here are some of these experiences I
would like to share:
Louise a 69 year old housekeeper, was diagnosed with
an advanced pancreas cancer. The cancer evolved to a stage for which her medical
oncologist was not anticipating efficacy from conventional chemotherapy. She was left with
pain killers. Louise then turned to the liquid cartilage extract along with a healthy
natural nutrition to assist pancreatic functions and regular exercise. At the end of
August '97, a monitoring scan performed by her medical oncologist revealed no sign of the
tumor. I talked to her recently and she 'is in good health and keeps on her new way of
Dave is a clerical worker in New Brunswick and is 47
years old. Three months ago, he was diagnosed with a prostate cancer. This revelation
plunged Dave in a depression state. After sharing his
health concerns with friends and relatives, he
decided to supplement his diet with the liquid cartilage extract and glandular extracts to
enhance his thymus immune functions. Upon his most recent visit to my office, Dave advised
me he was told by his medical oncologist that the tumor had shrunk. He could not believe
the way he was feeling.
NOTICE TO THE READER
DR. CYR SAID: I BELIEVE IN THE SCIENTIFIC MEDICINE AND IN
ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES. I DON`T TREAT CANCER; RATHER I RECOMMEND THAT MY PATIENTS,
INCLUDING THOSE WITH CANCER. MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS, OR PARKINSON'S DISEASE-TAKE THE LIVE
PROTEINS OF THYMUS, PANCREAS, LIVER, MESENCHYMES OR THE LIQUID SHARK CARTILAGE AS
NUTRITIONAL SUPPORT, THESE FOOD SUPPLEMENTS DEFINITELY BRING UP A PERSON'S IMMUNITY. I
ALWAYS MAINTAINED THAT IF YOU HAVE AN ELEVATED IMMUNITY YOU WON'T GET SERIOUS DISEASES.