In a study at Georgia State University whole ginger extract was found to slow growth rate and to cause the death of pancreas cancer cells (PC-3 line) in petri dish type studies and in live mice. 
Two grams of ginger per day for one month time periods was found successful at reducing inflammation of the intestinal lining in human studies. [5,6] Free arachidonic acid levels were reduced. Arachidonic acid levels are typically increased in inflammation and it has been found to be a precursor for 5-HETE, a main energy source for stimulating prostate cancer cell growth. [8-12] The prostate cancer cells seem to have the ability to increase production of an enzyme that converts arachidonic acid (half of the endogenous cannabinoid, anandamide) into 5-HETE which is a form needed by the cancer cells.
Conjugated linolenic acid (CLA) was used successfully to reduce breast tumor growth in a study regarding the same enzyme from the prostate cancer cells, 5-lipoxygenase (5-LO). The CLA, an essential fatty acid, was not found to be inhibiting the 5-LO enzyme but instead it was reducing the enzyme’s activating protein and possibly competing with arachidonic acid (also an essential fatty acid). It might be able to stand in for the 5-LO enzyme but less 5-HETE was being produced and breast tumor cell growth was “attenuated” (sounds like a good thing).
Attenuation can be defined as the process by which a virus, bacterium, etc., changes under laboratory conditions to become harmless or less virulent.
So I think this research shows:
- Prostate and breast cancer cells have learned how to make the 5-LO enzyme or more likely how to make 5-LO’s activating protein
- In humans, mice, and in petri dish studies, ginger has been found to inhibit the action of 5-LO from converting as much arachidonic acid into 5-HETE and slowing prostate cancer cell growth.
- Conjugated linolenic acid may also help slow the conversion by taking the place of the arachidonic acid and/or by inhibiting the activating protein.
- If a patient has breast or prostate cancer currently then do eat at least two grams of ginger extract per day. I aim for a 5 gram per day arthritis research-pain killing intake – which is about a teaspoon of the powder. I sprinkle on a variety of foods or beverages throughout the day or I eat the crystallized ginger or cook with the raw root as well. Easy bruising, blood thinning properties, are the only side effect that I’ve noticed and only when I’m eating the candied ginger as well as the powder.
- Avoiding excess amounts of foods rich in arachidonic acid [livestrong.com AA food sources], while fighting prostate or breast cancer and increasing CLA and omega 3 fatty acids might help reduce the 5-HETE availability to cancer cells.
- Increasing intake of the other endogenous cannabinoid building blocks, the essential phospholipids could help rebuild stronger membranes. Loss of the arachidonic acid as a membrane building block leaves weakened defenses against other infections. Anandamide, the endogenous cannabinoid that contains arachidonic acid, isn’t the only one, so medical marijuana – an external source of cannabinoids, might not be the only solution to rebuilding strong membranes without also feeding the cancer cells. – Flaw in that plan is that the foods high in arachidonic acid also tend to be good sources of phospholipids – not really a surprise – half the brain weight is made up of phospholipids.
Addition Dec. 15, 2011: [drdavidbrownstein.blogspot.com] has info about iodine levels in association with breast and prostate cancer rates.
*This list of articles was tacked on the eicosanoid article but it became apparent that more discoveries had been made regarding ginger itself.
1. [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21849094] 2011 Aug 18:1-12. [Epub ahead of print] Benefits of whole ginger extract in prostate cancer. Karna P, Chagani S, Gundala SR, Rida PC, Asif G, Sharma V, Gupta MV, Aneja R. Source: Dept. of Biology, Georgia State U., Atlanta, GA 30303, USA.
*These articles were tacked on the bottom of the eicosanoid article but it became apparent that more discoveries had been made regarding ginger itself.
4. “Nutritional Sources of Arachidonic Acid, Livestrong.com [livestrong.com]
Colon Inflammation Markers Lower With Ginger Extract
*** Two grams of ginger was given daily for 30 days and intestinal lining inflammation seemed improved based on reduced free arachidonic acid (which is released from breakdown of the endogenous cannabinoids after they are released from their membrane storage in response to elevated intracellular calcium or glutamate levels – just to review from a few blogs ago).
Zick SM, Turgeon DK, Vareed SK, Ruffin MT, Litzinger AJ, Wright BD, Alrawi S, Normolle DP, Djuric Z, Brenner DE. Phase II Study of the Effects of Ginger Root Extract on Eicosanoids in Colon Mucosa in People at Normal Risk for Colorectal Cancer.Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2011 Oct 11.
“Interestingly the incorporation of AA into platelet phospholipids increased in platelets treated with aqueous ginger extract.”
***** Swish and score – ginger helped the body to rebuild endogenous cannabinoids – AA plus phospholipid = healthy rebuilt membranes and endogenous cannabinoids reloaded ready for the next stress signal to fire them off where they can be messengers or be transformed into eicosanoids or other metabolites.
** I should have just read this one first. It seems that prostate cancer eats only a metabolite of arachidonic acid – which itself is a building block of endogenous cannabinoids and strong membranes. It would be to the cancer cell’s advantage to have learned how to use the body’s own system to mobilize resources as a way to get nutrients for themselves. The cancer cell can make the enzyme that activates vitamin 25-D to hormone 1,25-D; hormone 1,25-D signals the bones to release calcium; increased intracellular levels of calcium signal the release of endogenous cannabinoids from membrane storage – arachidonic acid and free phospholipids – cancer food. In the placenta they would have become nutrients for the fetus.
Jagadananda Ghosh and Charles E. Myers, Inhibition of arachidonate 5-lipoxygenase triggers massive apoptosis in human prostate cancer cells Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1998 October 27; 95(22): 13182–13187. ***I think this might be the research mentioned in the previous link.
***Aha, the problem – the prostate cancer cells have learned how to signal the body to make the 5-Lipoxygenase so more ginger for men as a preventative and if prostate cancer is already present then excess intake of arachidonic acid foods may not be good.
11. [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov] Myers CE, Ghosh J Lipoxygenase inhibition in prostate cancer.. Eur Urol. 1999;35(5-6):395-8.
12. [ncbi.nlm.nih] Carcinogenesis. 2011 Jun;32(6):822-8. Epub 2011 Mar 10. Enhanced formation of 5-oxo-6,8,11,14-eicosatetraenoic acid by cancer cells in response to oxidative stress, docosahexaenoic acid and neutrophil-derived 5-hydroxy-6,8,11,14-eicosatetraenoic acid. Grant GE, Rubino S, Gravel S, Wang X, Patel P, Rokach J, Powell WS.
***Did anyone besides me notice that they stimulated those cancer cells with calcium? Might simply not over stimulating cancer with excess calcium be an attractive target for cancer therapy? and cheap? – less calcium intake – more health output? /speculation/
13. [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov] Biochim Biophys Acta. 2005 Oct 1;1736(3):244-50. Attenuation of breast tumor cell growth by conjugated linoleic acid via inhibition of 5-lipoxygenase activating protein. Kim JH, Hubbard NE, Ziboh V, Erickson KL.
***Take home point – if you already have breast cancer (and probably similar for prostate cancer) then consuming more CLA type of good fats may help reduce the over-conversion of arachidonic acid into the cancer friendly type, 5-HETE.