Pomegranate Juice & Pomegranate Extracts Can Prevent & Stop Breast Cancer Tumors
Eating fruit, such as pomegranates that contain anti-aromatase phytochemicals reduces the incidence of hormone-dependent breast cancer, according to results of a study published in the January issue of Cancer Prevention Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.
Other researchers not associated with the study told the journal that the results are promising, and suggested more studies involving animals and humans were needed to confirm the findings.
Pomegranates and pomegranate extracts have been shown to inhibit breast cancer cell proliferation and invasion and promote cell apoptosis in both ER+ and ER- breast cancer cells in a dose dependent manner, as well as preventing mammary tumor formation in HER2/neu transgenic mice. In addition, pomegranates have been shown to inhibit aromatase activity and pomegranate juice consumption appears not to significantly increase circulating estrogen levels in postmenopausal women.
In cancer studies, pomegranate juice has been found to reduce the incidence of skin, breast, lung and prostate cancer. Its ability of fight these diseases is due to the level of antioxidants that it contains and their anti-inflammatory effect.
Studies have shown that when cancer cells are exposed to pomegranate juice they die. It has been effective in halting the growth, and preventing the development of cancer. Women working at preventing or healing breast cancer will be interested to know that studies show that the juice inhibits aromatase activity by sixty to eight per cent without side effects. Other benefits for women are in its high iron, calcium and magnesium content.
Pomegranate is an exotic fruit containing juicy, ruby-red seeds. Like green tea, the pomegranate is rich in beneficial polyphenols or flavonoids. Although it has long been valued as a medicinal plant, there have been seven times as many published studies regarding pomegranate in the past seven years as in all the preceding years.
On the heels of the discovery by Israeli researchers that pomegranate juice has antioxidant properties, another Israeli team has found that the fruit could have important implications for breast cancer treatment and estrogen replacement therapy.
The Technion-Israel Institute of Technology research team presented two studies at an international conference in June indicating that pomegranate seed oil triggers apoptosis — a self-destruct mechanism in breast cancer cells. Furthermore, pomegranate juice can be toxic to most estrogen-dependent breast cancer cells, while leaving normal breast cells largely unaffected. Estrogen is a hormone often prescribed to protect postmenopausal women against heart disease and osteoporosis.
An acid found in pomegranates appears to block aromatase, an enzyme that converts androgen to estrogen, a hormone that plays a role in the development of breast cancer, the researchers wrote in the journal Cancer Prevention Research.
“We identified some of these chemicals in pomegranates that actually have properties that can suppress aromatase,” researcher Shiuan Chen, of the City of Hope cancer research and treatment center in Duarte, California, said in a telephone interview.
Pomegranate is enriched in a series of compounds known as ellagitannins that, as shown in this study, appear to be responsible for the anti-proliferative effect of the pomegranate.
“Phytochemicals suppress estrogen production that prevents the proliferation of breast cancer cells and the growth of estrogen-responsive tumors,” said principal investigator Shiuan Chen, Ph.D., director of the Division of Tumor Cell Biology and co-leader of the Breast Cancer Research Program at City of Hope in Duarte, Calif.
Many women who have had breast cancer take medicines called aromatase inhibitors — such as Pfizer’s Aromasin, Novartis’ Femara and AstraZeneca Plc’s Arimidex — to keep estrogen from feeding tumors.
Chen and colleagues studied whether compounds, or phytochemicals, in pomegranates can suppress aromatase and ultimately block cancer growth. They found that 10 natural compounds in the fruit may potentially prevent estrogen-related breast cancer.
Chen said the compounds would not be a replacement for aromatase inhibitors.
“We do not recommend people start taking this as a replacement for the AI’s,” Chen said. “They (pomegranate compounds) are not as potent as the real drugs so we think that the interest probably is more on the prevention end rather than in a therapeutic purpose.”
It’s not clear that these levels could be achieved in animals or in humans because the (compounds) are not well absorbed into blood when provided in the diet,” said Gary Stoner of Ohio State University.
Dr. Powel Brown, an oncologist at the University of Texas, said in a statement that future studies should focus on testing pomegranate juice for its effect on estrogen levels, menopausal symptoms, breast density or even as a cancer preventive agent.
More than 400,000 women die from breast cancer globally every year. About 75 percent of breast cancers are estrogen-receptor positive, meaning they are fed by estrogen.
Previous research has shown that pomegranate juice is rich in antioxidants — vitamins and other substances — that may help prevent diseases such as cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
Pomegranate fruit has one of the highest antioxidant contents of any fruit in the world as well as some of the most effective antioxidants. These antioxidants neutralize free radicals in the body that are believed to cause diseases such as coronary heart disease and cancer. Based on research concerning the effects of pomegranate juice on heart health and cancer treatment, it is clear that the naturally these occurring antioxidants can serve as a safe and rather effective treatment.
In addition to having anti-inflammatory effects, the juice, peel, and oil also have demonstrated anticancer activities, including interference with tumor cell growth and reproduction, cell cycle control, tumor invasion, and new blood vessel growth.
The anti-tumor properties of the pomegranate fruit are due to the additive or synergistic effects of most of the different compounds/nutrients in the fruit according to James Kumi-Diaka, PhD, an associate professor of biological sciences at Florida Atlantic University in Davie. “Extracts of pomegranate have potential antiproliferative [anti-growth] effects on tumors including human breast cancer cell lines. Research data in our own laboratory and from elsewhere indicate that the flavonoids including phenolic acids and the pericarps’ [seed covering] tannins in pomegranate oil, all have cancer chemopreventive properties. Click here to learn which pomegranate products are recommended for treating breast cancer.