History Sharkliveroil l What is squalene? l The Role of Squalene in Health  l  Dr. Carl A. Luer

Dr. William Lane interview by dr. Passwater  Dr. William Lane  l  Dr. Bikul Das  l  G.S. Kelly Clinical uses

Squalene for Skin Care


What is Squalene?

This natural treasure from the deep, cold waters of the South pacific, was discovered in 1906 by Dr. Tsujimoto of Japan. However, extensive medical research did not begin until 1930, when it was noted that sharks do not develop tumors and are cancer free. Squalene is an extract of shark liver oil from the Aizame shark whose natural Pacific habitat is in unpolluted ocean depths of 3,000 feet in 35 degree waters.

The centrophorus artomarginatus deep sea sharks live in waters 600 to 1000 m deep, without sunlight. How can they manage to survive under such harsh conditions, where pressure is consistently high and oxygen supply is very poor? The secret lies in their livers, which account for 25% to 30% of their total body weight.

Identified as Squalene, with a chemical formula C30H50, Squalene is an unsaturated hydrocarbon, which can easily produce oxygen by combining with water. Squalene has been extensively researched and, as an oxygen carrier, found to play a key role in maintaining health.

Dr. Noguchi once said that "the cause of all illnesses is lack of oxygen."

A curious trait of the shark is its apparent immunity to cancer and disease. Once regarded as an enemy, a primitive and powerful hunter of the deep, the shark in now being heralded as a lifesaver.

This unique fish which has remained structurally unchanged for 400 million years, may provide us with the natural resistance we need to fight many of our most common modern diseases from colds to cancer.

Another source of Squalene is olive oil, which has been traditionally known for its health effects.

A related compound is Scalene used in skin care products. Squalane is derived from Squalene, but is more stable against oxidation.

Other very useful properties of Scalene is its very low coagulation point (-55 degrees Celsius) and very high melting point (203 degrees Celsius), making it very suitable for lubrication.

Properties of Squalene

Detail description of the properties and uses of Squalene and Scalene can be found in: "Biological Role and Practical Uses of Squalene and Scalene" by Maurice L. Rosenthal
in "COSMETICS AND THE SKIN" by I. Lubowe and F.V. Wells, editors Reinhold Publishing Corp., 1964.

The following are excerpts from the above article:


Squalene (C30H50)


"The triterpene Squalene is a highly unsaturated aliphatic hydrocarbon (C30H50) which is widely distributed in nature. It is found in small quantities in many vegetable oils, and in larger amounts in certain fish oils. Interest in its medical and cosmeto-dermatological significance was intensified when Squalene was found in human sebaceous secretions, as a precursor of cholesterol, and when its possible anti-carcinogenic effect was described. It is the principal hydrocarbon of human surface lipids amounting up to 11 per cent of total surface fat. Its occurrence has been reported in dermoid cysts, cerumen, hair fat, and sebum.

In attempting to assign a specific role to Squalene in biochemical processes, many interesting developments took place. Squalene, a byproduct of natural Vitamin A commercial production, also is converted on its biochemical path to cholesterol synthesis, into 7-dehydrocholesterol, which on irradiation becomes Vitamin D. The very limited percutaneous absorption of Vitamin A in enhanced when the vitamin is dissolved in Squalene

Studies in relation to its presence in ovarian dermoid cysts and depot fat of women led to its identification in vernix caseosa. It was then postulated that Squalene plays an important part in embryological development.
Investigation of the fungistatic effect of sebum on skin surfaces led to the observation that certain carcinogenic chemicals are inactivated when exposed to Squalene over a period of time.

Further studies on patients with epidermoid carcinoma suggested that Squalene served as a protective agent in human sebum, as this is the usual type of carcinoma which arises after exposure to carcinogenic hydrocarbons, excessive exposure to sunlight, and ultraviolet rays."


"Sebum provides the normal lubricant of hairy and no-hairy skin. It keeps the skin supple and forms a protective bacterial and fungicidal coating on the skin and in the pilosebaceous apparatus. This fatty cover helps to keep moisture on the skin surface."

Squalene occurs naturally in the human sebum. When human sebum was separated from epithelial lipids, its average composition was calculated as follows:


Free fatty acids








Other hydrocarbons


Cholesteryl esters


Cholesterol (free)


Other sterols


Other substances



Penetration through the Skin

"The topical application of medicaments to the skin forms the basis of most dermatological therapy. Such application has many advantages, such as absence of pain and of bad taste, simplicity and ease of administration, and high concentration at the desired site. It is the only method by which a high local concentration of drugs in the skin can be achieved without undesirable systemic side-effects.

In many instances, it would be advantageous if the rate of penetration of medicaments through the epidermis could be increased. This would help in bringing about a more rapid and profound action of the locally applied compounds. If penetration (transfollicular, transepidermal, and into the horny layer) could be increased, many new compounds could be introduced into therapy.

Hence, the importance of sebum and its main hydrocarbon Squalene in cosmeto-dermatological field. The commercial use of this unique hydrocarbon was, therefore, a forgone conclusion."

Squalene (C30H62)

"This commercially available product is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, transaparant, stable, inert, homogeneous liquid oil." "On the basis of numerous clinical tests, it has been concluded that Squalene is a bland vehicle, with the unusual property to increase the rate, depth, and extent of penetration of topical agents from medicated ointments. On the other hand, squalene does not aid transepidermal penetration, nor dissolve the cementing substance of the horny layer."

"The cosmetologist has found in Squalene a natural emollient. It imparts to the skin a suppleness without an unpleasant greasy feel. It readily forms emulsions with fixed oils and lipophilic substances and does not oxidize nor turn rancid. Squalene has also been found to accelerate dye-dispersion in lipsticks, producing a high gloss and acting as a long lasting fixative for perfumes.

When applied to washed or sun exposed skin and hair, squalane helps to restore the lost oils. It has long been known that coating the skin with oils offers considerable protection from sunburn because of a strong absorption band in the erythemogenic region"

Cosmetic Ingredient Review

Scalene and Squalene have been identified as a natural components of human sebum. Both ingredients are used at concentrations ranging from =< 0.1 to >= 50 percent in a variety of cosmetics. Because cosmetics containing Scalene and Squalene are applied to all body surfaces, these compounds may potentially enter the body through the skin, eyes, lungs, mouth, or other routes. Squalene can form peroxides on exposure to air, while Scalene is stable to air and oxygen. Animal studies indicate Scalene is slowly absorbed through the skin, while both compounds are poorly absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract. Squalene is a metabolic precursor of cholesterol and other steroids.

The acute toxicity of these ingredients by all routes in animals is low. At 100 percent concentrations, both compounds are nonirritant to rabbit skin and eyes. According to clinical evidence of formulations containing Scalene, the compound is not a significant skin irritant or sensitizer.

Limited contact sensitization tests indicate that Squalene is not a significant contact allergen or irritant. Reversible depilation is reported from topical application of Squalene to animals, but limited human studies did not show any such effect. No photosensitivity data for the two ingredients were available.


On the basis of the available information presented in this report, The Expert Panel concluded that both Scalene and Squalene are safe as cosmetic ingredients in the present practice of use and concentration.

Source: Second Report of the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel Journal of the American College of Toxicology (Special issue) Volume 1, Number 2, 1982, Pgs. 37-56.


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Sources and references Squalene and haaienleverolie

1. Berger S.M.: 'Forever Young', 1ste ed., 1989.

2. Tsjujimoto M., Toyam Y., 1992: ' Unsaponifiable Constituents (higher alcohol) of the liver oil of the sharks and rays'. Chem Umschau 29: 27 - 29, 43 - 45

3. Dr. Conrado O. Venzon, 'The Precious Oil of the Deep-Sea Shark', Worldwide Publ.Services Quezon City, Philippines.

4. 'The Healer Shark', Neil Solomons MD.Ph.D. and Richard Passwater, Ph.D. 1998

5. Brohult, Astrid, 1963: 'Alkylglycerols and their use in Radiation Treatment', Acta. Radiol. Suppl. 223: 7 - 99, Stockholm.

6. Dr. William Lane Comac, 'Sharks don't Get Cancer', 1992.

7. ' Fish Oil May Ease Arthritis Pain'. Med. World News July 14, 1986, p. 9.

8 Glausinz: 'The Secret Healing Power of Sharks', The Medicine Discoverer Magazine, January 1994.

9. Prof. dr. J. de Vries, Hart- en vaatziekten vormen samen met kanker de belangrijkste doodsoorzaak in de westerse wereld. Studies wijzen uit dat visolie unieke vetzuren bevat die preventief werken. Waar blijven de aanbevelingen van volksgezondheid? Natuur en techniek 65, 12 1997

10. Kromhout, Daan, Bosschieter, Edward B. and Coulander, Cor de Lezenne, 1985: 'The Inverse relationship Between Fish Oil Consumption and 20-Year old Mortality from Coronary Health Diseases'.

11. Takashi Yokota M.D., 'The Miracle of Squalene (Cures Cancer & Modern Diseases)'

The Medicine Discoverer, January 1994, 'The Secret Healing Power of Sharks'.

13. Martin-Moreno JM, Willett WC, Gorgojo L et al. Dietary fat, olive oil intake and breast cancer risk. Int.J Cancer 1994;58:

14. Trichopoulou A, Katsouyanni K, Stuver S et al. Consumption of olive oil and specific food groups in relation to breast cancer risk in Greece. J Natl.Cancer Inst. 1995;87:110-6.

15. Landa MC, Frago N, Tres A. Diet and the risk of breast cancer in Spain. Eur.J Cancer Prev. 1994;3:313-20.

16. Franceschi S, Favero A, Decarli A et al. Intake of macronutrients and risk of breast cancer. Lancet 1996;347:1351-6.

17. La Vecchia C, Negri E. Fats in seasoning and the relationship to pancreatic cancer. Eur.J Cancer Prev. 1997;6:370-3.

18. Porter, Ph.D. Squalene Monooxygenase, University of Kentucky

19. Newmark HL. Squalene, olive oil, and cancer risk: a review and hypothesis. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 1997

20. Rao CV, Newmark HL, Reddy BS. Chemopreventive effect of squalene on colon cancer. Carcinogenesis 1998;19:287-290

21. Nakagawa M, Yamaguchi T, Fukawa H, et al. Potentiation by squalene of the cytotoxicity of anticancer agents against culture mammalian cells and murine tumor. Jpn J Cancer Res 1985;76:315-320.

22. Asnis DS, Saltzman HP, Melchert A. Shark oil pneumonia. An overlooked entity. Chest 1993;103:976-977.

23. Yamaguchi T, Nakagawa M, Hidaka K et al. Potentiation by squaleen of antitumor effect of 3-[(4-amino-2-methyl-5-pyrimidinyl)methyl]-1-(2-chloroethyl)-nitros ourea in a murine tumor system. Jpn.J Cancer Res. 1985;76:1021-6.

24. 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 squaleen. Carcinogenesis 1998;19:703-6.

25. Smith, T. J., Kim, S., Lee, M. J., Yang, G. Y., Newmark, H. L., and Yang, C. S. Inhibition of 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone (NKK)-induced lung tumorigenesis and DNA oxidation by dietary squaleen. Proceedings of the American Association for Cancer Research 40, 262. 1999. Ref Type: Journal (Full)

26. Dr. Bikul Das. The Science behind Squalene. The Human Antioxidant. 2000. Toronto Canada

27. Kelly GS. Squaleen and its potential clinical uses. Altern.Med Rev. 1999;4:29-36.

28. Fliesler SJ, Keller RK. Isoprenoid metabolism in the vertebrate retina. Int.J Biochem.Cell Biol. 1997;29:877-94.

29. Strandberg TE, Tilvis RS, Miettinen TA. Metabolic variables of cholesterol during squaleen feeding in humans: comparison with cholestyramine treatment. J Lipid Res. 1990;31:1637-43.

30. Kohno Y, Egawa Y, Itoh S, Nagaoka S, Takahashi M, Mukai K. Kinetic study of quenching reaction of singlet oxygen and scavenging reaction of free radical by squaleen in n-butanol. Biochim.Biophys.Acta 1995;1256:52-6.

31. Miettinen TA, Vanhanen H. Serum concentration and metabolism of cholesterol during rapeseed oil and squaleen feeding. Am J Clin.Nutr. 1994;59:356-63.

32. Chan P, Tomlinson B, Lee CB, Lee YS. Effectiveness and safety of low-dose pravastatin and squaleen, alone and in combination, in elderly patients with hypercholesterolemia. J Clin.Pharmacol. 1996;36:422-7.

33. Smith TJ. Squaleen: Potential chemopreventive agent by squalene. Expert.Opin.Investig.Drugs 2000;9:1841-8.

34. Martin-Moreno JM, Willett WC, Gorgojo L et al. Dietary fat, olive oil intake and breast cancer risk. Int.J Cancer 1994;58:

35. Luer, C. A. et al: (In Vitro Metabolism Of The Proximate Carcinogen Aflatoxin-B 1 By Liver Portions Of The Calf, Nurse Shark And Clearnose Skate) Fed. Froc. 46:2 290, 1987
36. Trichopoulou A, Katsouyanni K, Stuver S et al. Consumption of olive oil and specific food groups in relation to breast cancer risk in Greece. J Natl.Cancer Inst. 1995;87:110-6.

37. Paul Terry, Paul Lichtenstein, Maria Feychting, Anders Ahlbom, Alicja Wolk, Vol 357, June 2, 2001 The Lancet

38. Fatty acids and eicosanoids regulate gene expression through direct interactions with peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors a and g . Steven A. Kliewer, Scott Sundseth et al. Nat. Academy of Sciences of the USA 1997

39. Joseph Vamecq, Norbert Latruffe, Vol 354, July 10, 1999 The Lancet

40. E. Mueller, P. Sarraf , Bruce M. Spiegelman. Molecular Cell. Vol 1, 465-470, February, 1998

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