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Pomegranate Might Help Fight Prostate Cancer, Studies Suggest

How Pomegranate Fights Prostate Cancer

The pomegranate fruit is an all-around healthy fruit, but studies suggest that the seeds and juice of this exotic superfood might also help prevent and fight prostate cancer, the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths among American men. Let's take a look at some of the studies that have examined the potential prostate cancer fighting properties of the pomegranate:

In Vitro Studies

In a study published in The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, several prostate cancer cell lines were treated with pomegranate polyphenols, pomegranate juice, pomegranate extracts containing punicalagin plus ellagic acid. All treatments boosted apoptosis, or self-destruction of cancerous cells. They also caused dose-dependent decreases in cell proliferation in all the studied prostate cancer cell lines. Numerous other in vitro studies have reported similar results.

Animal Studies

Also several animal studies suggest that pomegranates may beneficial in slowing down or preventing prostate cancer. In one of the most recent studies, mice were injected with prostate cancer cells and randomly assigned to receive either regular drinking water, water enriched with 0.1% pomegranate fruit extract or PFE (equivalent to 250 milliliters of pomegranate juice), or water that contained 0.2% pomegranate extract (equivalent to 500 milliliters of pomegranate juice).

The mice that drank regular water developed solid tumors earlier than the mice in the pomegranate group. Furthermore, the 0.1% and 0.2% PFE-supplemented mice had an average life expectancy of 73 and 92 weeks, respectively, compared with an average survival of 43 weeks in the water-fed group. Furthermore, only 20% of the mice in PFE-supplemented groups showed metastasis to distant organs after 34 weeks, compared with 90% of the mice in the control group. This study appeared in the March 2012 issue of the journal Carcinogenesis.

Human Studies

The results of the laboratory and animal studies have certainly been promising, but before we declare pomegranate as a prostate cancer food, we definitely should review some human studies as well.

In a groundbreaking study published in the July 2006 issue of the journal Clinical Cancer Research, a team of researchers from UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles) analyzed the effects of pomegranate juice on PSA values in prostate cancer patients who showed rising PSA levels after treatment with surgery or radiation therapy.

PSA, or Prostate-Specific Antigen, is a protein that is produced by the prostate gland. The higher a man's PSA level, the more likely it is that he has prostate cancer. PSA tests are also used to monitor men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer in the past to see if their cancer has come back.

The UCLA study found that men who drank 8 ounces of pomegranate juice daily showed prolonged PSA doubling times, coupled with corresponding effects on cell proliferation, apoptosis, and oxidative stress observed in a laboratory (in vitro) setting. Similar results were reported in a 2013 study which observed the effects of pomegranate extract on the PSA doubling time in men with recurrent prostate cancer.

1. Hong MY, Seeram NP, Heber D (2008). Pomegranate polyphenols down-regulate expression of androgen-synthesizing genes in human prostate cancer cells overexpressing the androgen receptor. The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, 19 (12): 848-55.
2. Adhami VM, Siddiqui IA, Syed DN, et al (2012). Oral infusion of pomegranate fruit extract inhibits prostate carcinogenesis in the TRAMP model. Carcinogenesis 33 (3): 644-51.
3. Pantuck AJ, Leppert JT, Zomorodian N, et al. (2006). Phase II study of pomegranate juice for men with rising prostate-specific antigen following surgery or radiation for prostate cancer. Clinical Cancer Research, 12 (13): 4018-26.
4. Paller CJ, Ye X, Wozniak PJ, et al. (2013). A randomized phase II study of pomegranate extract for men with rising PSA following initial therapy for localized prostate cancer. Prostate Cancer Prostatic Diseases, 16 (1): 50-5.

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