According to the American Cancer Society , about 76,000 Americans are diagnosed with melanoma every year. This least common form of skin cancer is responsible for the majority of skin cancer deaths and there is no drug or combination of drugs that can reliably treat It. That is why the news about successful trials with an active compound of a common hibiscus plant caused a huge interest in the media and among melanoma patients.
Hybiscus and melanoma
Scientists from the Texas Biomedical Research Institute studied the effects of gossypin on cell culture and mice. Gossypin is a flavone, an active compound of Hybiscus vitifolius, a common hibiscus plant. Researchers found that gossypin suppresses inflammation and growth of cancer cells, although it is not clear how. They published their findings in the recent issue of Molecular Cancer Therapeutics.
The researchers found that gossypin inhibits the activity of two gene mutations, which are common in people who have melanoma. They believe that gossypin has great potential as an inhibitor of mutations named BRAFV600E kinase and CDK4. These mutations are observed in the huge majority of patients with melanoma.
In the experiments with melanoma cell culture, researchers found that gossypin actually stopped growth of melanoma cancer cell that had the two gene mutations. Gossypin also stopped the growth of different human melanoma cells. Scientists concluded that gossypin in fact stopped the mutations by binding directly with them. Treatment with gossypin also reduced the volume of the tumor and significantly increased survival.
The researchers believe that their findings offer a new potential for a novel type of the treatment of melanoma. The next step in the research is to learn how the body reacts to gossypin and how it metabolizes and absorbs it.
Hibiscus as a cure
Hibiscus has been known for centuries for its health benefits among native peoples of the tropical countries where it grows. Hibiscus tea is commonly used as a natural diuretic. It is particularly useful for people with kidney problems. Hibiscus is rich in vitamin C and minerals.
In Ayrvedic medicine hibiscus is used to cure cough and hair loss. Chinese medicine has many uses for hibiscus flowers and roots. A 2011 study shows that hibiscus has potential as a skin treatment and skin protection agent, since it is observed that it absorbs ultraviolet radiation. Some recent studies show that hibiscus tea can lower high blood pressure.
What is melanoma?
Melanoma is by far the most dangerous type of skin cancer. It develops when the damage to the skin from sunshine or the use of tanning beds causes genetic mutations that cause skin cells to multiply very fast and create malignant tumors.
Melanomas often look like common moles and some actually develop from moles. Most melanomas are brown or black, but can also be pink, red, blue, purple or white. They are caused mostly by occasional very intense exposure to the ultraviolet rays, the kind that turns into sunburn. Some people are genetically more predisposed to melanoma, such as people with melanoma in the family. About 8,790 Americans die annually from melanoma.
If discovered early, melanoma is almost always treatable. That is why it is so important to follow the guidelines created by the Skin Cancer Foundation:
- Do not go out without a generously applied sunscreen with an SPF 15 or higher;
- Stay in the shade between 10 AM and 4 PM;
- Do not allow your skin to burn;
- Stay away from tanning beds;
- Cover your skin with light clothes and your head with a hat;
- Use UV-blocking sunglasses.
- You need one ounce or 2 tablespoons to cover your whole body;
- Reapply sunscreen every two hours or after swimming or sweating.
- Check your skin regularly for new mole-looking growth;
Get your physician to check your skin once a year.