Melanoma cancer is very lethal because of the high risk of metastatic spread. Metastatic spread means that the cancer has spread to other parts of the body distant from the original site. To metastasize, tumor cells must do the following:
Separate from the primary cancer.
Enter and survive in the circulation.
Leave the circulation and survive in a second place.
“Adhesion molecules” assist in the process and are produced by the tumor. ICAM-1 is the name of one such molecule associated with melanoma and large amounts of ICAM-1 are produced by advanced melanomas. ICAM-1 may cause melanoma cells to form small balls of cells that block arteries, facilitating the establishment of metastatic tumors.
There is a connection between melanoma and dietary fats. Arachadonic acid (AA) is an omega-6 fatty acid and is the major fatty acid from dietary fat. AA is changed to endoperoxides by the cyclooxygenase system and to hydroperoxides by the lipoxygenase system. Lipoxygenase inhibitors have been studied for their ability to reduce metastases.
The authors studied cancer cells in the laboratory to determine the ability of 5-lipoxygenase inhibitors to change ICAM-1 production and to reduce cancer cell adhesion. A chemical 5-lipoxygenase inhibitor reduced ICAM-1 by almost half. This reduced the melanoma cell adhesion to endothelial cells such as the lining of blood vessels. Cancer cells must stick to endothelial cells or they can not establish a new cancer site.
CONCLUSION: The present study shows that in cell culture 5-lipoxygenase inhibitors suppress ICAM-1 production in melanoma cells, reducing cell adhesion. The authors believe that down regulating 5-lipoxygenase activity would reduce the metastasizing of tumors.
5-lipoxygenase inhibitors have shown promise in the treatment of asthma and shock.
NOTE: An Ayurvedic herb Boswellia serrata, another name for frankincense, is known to be a 5-lipoxygenase inhibitor.