Selective growth inhibition of a human malignant melanoma cell line by sesame oil in vitro

  • D.Edwards Smith
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    Laboratory for Preventive Medicine, Department of Physiological and Biological Sciences, Box 1016, Maharishi International University, Fairfield, Iowa 52556, USA
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  • J.W. Salerno
    Laboratory for Preventive Medicine, Department of Physiological and Biological Sciences, Box 1016, Maharishi International University, Fairfield, Iowa 52556, USA
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      Ayurveda, an ancient and comprehensive system of natural medicine, recommends regular topical application to the skin of sesame oil, above all other oils, as a health-promoting procedure. We examined the effect of sesame oil and several other vegetable oils and their major component fatty acids on the proliferation rate of human normal and malignant melanocytes growing at similar rates in serum-free media. We found that sesame and safflower oils, both of which contain large amounts of linoleate in triglyceride form, selectively inhibited malignant melanoma growth over normal melanocytes whereas coconut, olive and mineral oils, which contain little or no linoleate as triglyceride, did not. These oils were tested at a range of 10–300 μg/ml. We found that of the fatty acids tested, only linoleic acid was selectively inhibitory while palmitic and oleic were not. These fatty acids were tested in the range of 3–100 μg/ml. These results suggest that certain vegetable oils rich in linoleic acid, such as the sesame oil, recommended for topical use by Ayurveda, may contain selective antineoplastic properties which are similar to those demonstrated for essential polyunsaturated fatty acids and their metabolites. This suggests that whole vegetable oils may have potential clinical usefulness.
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