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Anti-Cancer Benefits of Shark Liver Oil

August 2005

By Dale Kiefer

Additional Potential Benefits

According to Shark Liver Oil: Nature’s Amazing Healer, “AKGs, taken in the form of shark liver oil . . . will improve the quality of life and ease the aging process.” One of the book’s authors, Dr. Ingemar Joelsson, worked for years with the Brohults in Sweden, and has published numerous medical journal articles on the benefits of shark liver oil and AKGs. Taken as a dietary supplement, say the book’s authors, this natural immune system booster “helps increase general well-being, stave off common viruses and infections, and battle more serious diseases . . .”2

Dr. Joelsson and his coauthors cite multiple benefits of shark liver oil supplementation, based largely on anecdotal evidence and their combined years of experience as physicians and researchers. Although few controlled studies are available to support these claims, it is interesting to note the remarkable benefits reportedly experienced by their patients, including significant improvements in allergy symptoms, alleviation of asthma symptoms, and even relief from chronic pain.

According to the authors, in 1992 the Brohults were granted a patent for a method of treating allergies and asthma with AKGs. The book also describes positive changes in skin conditions such as dermatitis and psoriasis with the use, both topical and oral, of shark liver oil. Indeed, it has been used topically to treat dry skin and wounds for centuries by native Scandinavians.2

Safety and Dosages

Consumption of shark liver oil has no known side effects,17 though excessive amounts may result in stomach upset or diarrhea, and individuals who are allergic to shark meat may suffer an allergic response to the oil. Shark liver oil has been available for consumption by the public for more than 40 years, especially in Scandinavia, where it is a popular preventive and therapeutic agent.17 It is important to recall that AKGs occur naturally within the human body, albeit in far smaller amounts than are available through supplementation.

The scientific literature supports the use of 100-150 mg of alkylglycerols daily for general immune system enhancement.17

Published clinical data by Dr. Astrid Brohult suggest that 0.3-2.6 grams (300-2600 mg) of alkylglycerols daily may help minimize the decrease in platelets and white blood cells associated with radiation treatment for cancer, with an apparent optimal dosage of 600 mg of alkylglycerols per day.32 Animal studies have also shown that alkylglycerols can increase white blood cell and platelet counts.33-36 Therefore, consuming alkylglycerols for more than 30 days consecutively should be done with physician supervision.

Although much research remains to be done on the numerous potential benefits of shark liver oil, past research indicates that this gift from the deep holds enormous promise for anyone wishing to enhance immunity, fight cancer, and promote general health.

Please Note: Do not consume shark liver oil for more than 30 days continuously without first consulting your physician.


1. Krotkiewski M, Przybyszewska M, Janik P. Cytostatic and cytotoxic effects of alkylglycerols (Ecomer). Med Sci Monit. 2003 Nov;9(11):I131-5.

2. Solomon N, Passwater R, Joelsson I, Haimes L. Shark Liver Oil: Nature’s Amazing Healer. Kensington Books; 1997.

3. Brohult A, Brohult J, Brohult S. Biochemical effects of alkoxyglycerols and their use in cancer therapy. Acta Chem Scand. 1970;24(2):730.

4. Hallgren B, Niklasson A, Stallberg G, Thorin H. On the occurrence of 1-O-alkylglycerols and 1-O-(2-methoxyalkyl)glycerols in human colostrum, human milk, cow’s milk, sheep’s milk, human red bone marrow, red cells, blood plasma and a uterine carcinoma. Acta Chem Scand B. 1974;28(9):1029-34.

5. Brohult A, Brohult J, Brohult S, Joelsson I. Effect of alkoxyglycerols on the frequency of injuries following radiation therapy for carcinoma of the uterine cervix. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 1977;56(4):441-8.

6. Brohult A, Brohult J, Brohult S, Joelsson I. Effect of alkoxyglycerols on the frequency of fistulas following radiation therapy for carcinoma of the uterine cervix. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 1979;58(2):203-7.

7. Brohult A, Brohult J, Brohult S. Effect of alkoxyglycerols on the serum ornithine carbamoyl transferase in connection with radiation treatment. Experientia. 1972 Feb 15;28(2):146-7.

8. Brohult A, Brohult J, Brohult S. Effect of alkoxyglycerols on the frequency of injuries following radiation therapy. Experientia. 1973 May 1;29(1):81-2.

9. Brohult A, Holmberg J. Alkoxyglycerols in the treatment of leukopaenia caused by irradiation. Nature. 1954 Dec11;174(4441): 1102-3.

10. Brohult A, Brohult J, Brohult S. Regression of tumour growth after administration of alkoxyglycerols. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 1978;57(1):79-83.

11. Boeryd B, Hallgren B, Stallberg G. Studies on the effect of methoxy-substituted glycerol ethers on tumour growth and metastasis formation. Br J Exp Pathol. 1971 Jun;52(3):221-30.

12. Samadder P, Richards C, Bittman R, Bhullar RP, Arthur G. The antitumor ether lipid 1-Q-octadecyl-2-O-methyl-rac-glycerophosphocholine (ET-18-OCH3) inhibits the association between Ras and Raf-1. Anticancer Res. 2003 May;23(3B):2291-5.

13. Arthur G, Bittman R. The inhibition of cell signaling pathways by antitumor ether lipids. Biochim Biophys Acta. 1998 Feb 5;1390(1):85-102.

14. Pedrono F, Khan NA, Legrand AB. Regulation of calcium signalling by 1-O-alkylglycerols in human Jurkat T lymphocytes. Life Sci. 2004 Apr 16;74(22):2793-801.

15. Brohult A, Brohult J, Brohult S, Joelsson I. Reduced mortality in cancer patients after administration of alkoxyglycerols. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 1986;65(7):779-85.

16. Cheminade C, Gautier V, Hichami A, et al. 1-O-alkylglycerols improve boar sperm motility and fertility. Biol Reprod. 2002 Feb;66(2):421-8.

17. Pugliese PT, Jordan K, Cederberg H, Brohult J. Some biological actions of alkylglycerols from shark liver oil. J Altern Complement Med. 1998;4(1):87-99.

18. Aroca JD, Sanchez-Pinera P, Corbalan-Garcia S, et al. Correlation between the effect of the anti-neoplastic ether lipid 1-O-octadecyl-2-O-methyl-glycero-3-phosphocholine on the membrane and the activity of protein kinase Calpha. Eur J Biochem. 2001 Dec;268(24):6369-78.

19. Yamamoto N, St CD, Jr., Homma S, Ngwenya BZ. Activation of mouse macrophages by alkylglycerols, inflammation products of cancerous tissues. Cancer Res. 1988 Nov 1;48(21):6044-9.

20. Wang H, Rajagopal S, Reynolds S, Cederberg H, Chakrabarty S. Differentiation-promoting effect of 1-O (2 methoxy) hexadecyl glycerol in human colon cancer cells. J Cell Physiol. 1999 Feb;178(2):173-8.

21. Pedrono F, Martin B, Leduc C, et al. Natural alkylglycerols restrain growth and metastasis of grafted tumors in mice. Nutr Cancer. 2004;48(1):64-9.

22. Skopinska-Rozewska E, Krotkiewski M, Sommer E, et al. Inhibitory effect of shark liver oil on cutaneous angiogenesis induced in Balb/c mice by syngeneic sarcoma L-1, human urinary bladder and human kidney tumour cells. Oncol Rep. 1999 Nov;6(6):1341-4.

23. Newmark HL. Squalene, olive oil, and cancer risk. Review and hypothesis. Ann NY Acad Sci. 1999;889:193-203.

24. Smith TJ. Squalene: potential chemopreventive agent. Expert Opin Investig Drugs. 2000 Aug;9(8):1841-8.

25. Gylling H, Miettinen TA. Postabsorptive metabolism of dietary squalene. Atherosclerosis. 1994 Apr;106(2):169-78.

26. Ohkuma T, Otagiri K, Tanaka S, Ikekawa T. Intensification of host’s immunity by squalene in sarcoma 180 bearing ICR mice. J Pharmacobiodyn. 1983 Feb;6(2):148-51.

27. Skopinska-Rozewska E, Chorostowska-Wynimko J, Krotkiewski M, et al. Inhibitory effect of Greenland shark liver oil combined with squalen and arctic birch ashes on angiogenesis and L-1 sarcoma growth in Balb/c mice. Pol J Vet Sci. 2003;6(3 Suppl):54-6.

28. Das B, Yeger H, Baruchel H, et al. In vitro cytoprotective activity of squalene on a bone marrow versus neuroblastoma model of cisplatin-induced toxicity. implications in cancer chemotherapy. Eur J Cancer. 2003 Nov;39(17):2556-65.

29. Smith TJ, Yang GY, Seril DN, Liao J, Kim S. Inhibition of 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone-induced lung tumorigenesis by dietary olive oil and squalene. Carcinogenesis. 1998 Apr;19(4):703-6.

30. Rao CV, Newmark HL, Reddy BS. Chemopreventive effect of squalene on colon cancer. Carcinogenesis. 1998 Feb;19(2):287-90.

31. Murakoshi M, Nishino H, Tokuda H, et al. Inhibition by squalene of the tumor-promoting activity of 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate in mouse-skin carcinogenesis. Int J Cancer. 1992 Dec 2;52(6):950-2.

32. Brohult A. Alkoxyglycerols and their use in radiation treatment. Acta Radiol Ther Phys Biol. 1963;24:Suppl 223:1-99.

33. Edlund T. Protective effect of d,l-a-octadecylglycerol ether in mice given total body x-irradiation. Nature. 1974;174:1102.

34. Linman JW. Hematopoietic effects of glycerol ethers. III. Inactivity of selachyl alcohol. Proc Soc Exp Biol Med. 1960;104:703-6.

35. Osmond DG, Roylance PJ, Webb AJ, Yoffey JM. The action of batyl alcohol and selchyl alcohol on the bone marrow of the guinea pig. Acta Hematol. 1963:29:180-6.

36. Krotkiewski M, Przybyszewska M, Janik P. Cyostatic and cytotoxic effects of alkylglycerols (Ecomer). Med Sci Monit. 2003;9(11):PI131-5.