Sharks have demonstrated the ability to heal their wounds quickly. Extensive research on the nutritional value of alkylglycerols (also called alkoxylglycerols or AKGs), found in the shark's sizeable liver (one third of the shark's size and weight) exerts remarkable benefits to a variety of organs, glands and other internal parts. They help to nourish, maintain and defend the body against disease.
Other chemicals in shark liver oil being studied against cancer are squalamine and squalene.
It is important to know that shark liver oil is substantially different from shark cartilage supplements, even though both come from the same fish. Shark liver oil contains potentially therapeutic substances unlike those found in the cartilage.
Shark liver oil is a rich source of alkylglycerols, chemicals that may have anticancer properties
The biologic properties of shark liver oil include encouragement of blood leukocyte and thrombocyte production as well as the activation of macrophage and anti-tumor activity.
Other properties include the capability to protect against radiation damage during radiation therapy for various types of cancer. Alkylglycerols act as a tough immune system booster against infectious disease and are what help give nursing animals, including breast-fed babies, protection against infection until their own immune systems can fully develop.
In a study published in the Journal of Cell Physiology ( February 1999), researchers studied the cell differentiation-promoting potential of a particular type of alkylglycerols on human colon cancer cells. The scientists wanted to observe the capability of alkylglycerols to change the biological makeup of human colon cancer cells. Alkylglycerols were shown to ". . . . promote a more benign or differentiated phenotype in colon cancer cells."
Treatment of the cancer cells with alkylglycerols resulted in a reduction of cellular proliferation and a reduced capacity for cellular invasion. In other words, alkylglycerols led to lowered cancer cell reproduction and a reduced capacity of the cancer cells to invade healthy cells.
The authors summarised that alkylglycerols possess both cancer preventative properties, as well as cancer treatment effects. In a study published in the Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine (Spring 1998), researchers extolled the many biologic actions of shark liver oil alkylglycerols. It was pointed out that shark liver oil has been around for 40 years and has been used as both a preventative and therapeutic agent. Not only have alkylglycerols been used to treat leukemia, as in the case of the children in Sweden, they have also been used to prevent radiation sickness stemming from radiation cancer treatments.
Furthermore, the high level of alkylglycerols that exist naturally within any given tumor cell has lead scientists to postulate that this is may be an apparent attempt of the body to control cell growth. In another study referred to in this paper, researchers found that the activation of protein kinase C, an essential step in cancer cell growth, can actually be stopped or inhibited by alkylglycerols. Also, it's been suggested that alkylglycerols directly act on the macrophages (large immune cells that gobble up cancer cells).