VALHALLA, NEW YORK. The incidence of cutaneous malignant melanoma is growing rapidly among persons with fair skin. It is estimated that one in 75 Americans will develop melanoma within their lifetime. Melanoma has a pronounced tendency to spread to other organs (metastasis) and the 5-year survival rate for metastatic melanoma is less than 10%. There is growing evidence that diet can influence the risk of developing melanoma. It is now believed that a high intake of omega-6 fatty acids stimulates the growth of melanoma and other cancers whereas omega-3 fatty acids suppress the growth of cancer cells.
Researchers at the New York Medical College and the American Health Foundation have just released the results of a laboratory experiment which clearly shows that the omega-3 fatty acid called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which is a main component of fish oil, is highly effective in inhibiting the growth of human melanoma cells. The researchers treated 12 different human metastatic melanoma cell cultures (in vitro) with DHA and found that more than 50% of them stopped growing. They urge further testing of their findings in full-scale clinical trials involving patients with melanoma. They conclude that “if DHA is capable of suppressing cell and tumor growth and metastatic potential in in vivo models of melanoma, a clinical trial of DHA would be warranted as an adjuvant to current surgical and chemotherapeutic interventions”.
Albino, Anthony P., et al. Cell cycle arrest and apoptosis of melanoma cells by docosahexaenoic acid: association with decreased pRb phosphorylation. Cancer Research, Vol. 60, August 1, 2000, pp. 4139- 45