Shark cartilage hit the headlines in the 80's, pegged as a possible cure for cancer. The premise was that sharks don't get cancer, so perhaps some element in the species could combat the disease in humans as well. Research focused on the rubbery skeletal cartilage from the head and fins of the shark. It's prepared by drying and grinding these into a fine powder. This shark cartilage seemed to block the growth of new blood vessels; which would otherwise feed growing tumors. Other anticancer properties of shark cartilage have been observed in laboratory test tubes, but when digested by human subjects, results seem considerably less impressive. In fact, despite prevailing anecdotal "evidence" of the cancer fighting benefits of shark cartilage, most reputable sources are still skeptical of these claims.
However, there are some other health benefits to shark cartilage that show promise. It seems to have anti-inflammatory properties and may be beneficial for treating psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Some studies have shown that shark cartilage boosts the immune system. It has also sometimes been prescribed for treating herpes infections such as cold sores.
Shark fin soup is a delicacy in Asia, revered for promoting health and longevity. However, shark populations are dwindling due to over-fishing and ecological concerns are escalating. Many shark cartilage products on today's market don't really contain enough active ingredients anyways. Give some serious consideration before supporting the shark cartilage industry.