Pomegranate Juice and Extract Demonstrate Impressive Anti-Cancer Properties in Experimental and Human Prostate Cancer Studies
James Meschino DC, MS
In recent years the ingestion of pure pomegranate juice (8 ounces per day) has been shown in clinical studies with human subjects to slow, and to some degree, reverse, the progression of prostate cancer, which is the second leading cause of cancer death in North American men.
Preclinical studies suggest that pomegranate juice may also help to defend against breast cancer and some other common cancers.
With respect to cancer prevention the authors of a 2014 review article stated, “Recent research has shown that pomegranate juice (PJ) and/or pomegranate extracts (PE) significantly inhibit the growth of prostate cancer cells in culture. In preclinical murine models (experiments with mice), PJ and/or PE inhibit growth and angiogenesis (growth of new blood vessels to feed tumor growth) of prostate tumors. More recently, we have shown that three components of PJ, luteolin, ellagic acid and punicic acid together, have similar inhibitory effects on prostate cancer growth, angiogenesis and metastasis. Results from clinical trials (in human prostate cancer studies) are also promising. PJ and/or PE significantly prolong the PSA (prostate specific antigen) doubling time in patients with prostate cancer”.
The above comments are based on the experimental and clinical studies involving pomegranate juice and extract in cancer research, which have shown the following outcomes and properties:
- Suppress the growth of the various human prostate cancer cells used in standard prostate cancer experimental studies (androgen receptor positive and androgen receptor negative prostate cancer cell lines)
- Apoptosis (programmed cell death) of prostate cancer cells in experimental studies.
- Decrease the synthesis of hormones known to encourage the proliferation of prostate cancer cells. The key hormones include dihydrotestosterone and other androgen hormones
- Inhibit the synthesis of the prostaglandin hormones known to promote prostate cancer proliferation, metastasis and invasion of nearby tissues. In this regard they inhibit two key enzymes used by cancer cells to promote their progression and metastasis. The enzymes are Phospholipase A2 and Cyclooxygenase.
- Inhibit the matrix metalloproteineases, which allow cancer cells to invade adjacent tissue. For instance, prostate cancer often spreads to the bladder via direct invasion through neighbouring tissues.
- Inhibit the metastatic process by which prostate cancer cells typically spread to the bone, liver and lung tissue.
In experimental studies, the ellagic acid, found in pomegranate juice, has also been shown have anti-cancer effects on other cancers, including:
- Lung cancer
- Cervical Cancer
- Breast Cancer
Human Prostate Cancer Studies
To date there have been two human clinical trials, using 8 ounces of pomegranate juice per day, to treat men who had advanced prostate cancer that was unresponsive to conventional medical treatment.
Both the 2006 and 2013 clinical trials yielded impressive results, showing a dramatic slowing of the PSA doubling time, and in men with androgen positive prostate cancer, pomegranate juice was shown to induce programmed cell death (apoptosis) of prostate cancer cells in these men.
A study in 2014 used a supplement containing an extract blend from pomegranate, green tea, broccoli, and curcumin in men with existing prostate cancer. Compared to the placebo group the men taking the oral supplement blend showed a significant inhibition of prostate cancer progression. The men taking the supplement saw only a 14.7% rise in their PSA level versus a 78.5% rise in the men taking the placebo pill.
With respect to other cancers the researchers state, “because many of the molecular mechanisms are shared by different types of cancers, and the fact that pomegranate constituents have been shown to be effective against breast, lung, colon and skin cancer, further enhances the therapeutic potential of pomegranate extract”.
In my view, the one juice I suggest my patients drink each day, as part of their cancer prevention strategy, is 4 ounces of pomegranate juice. I know that many juices are touted for their outstanding health benefits (Noni juice, Acai berry juice, Guava Juice, Raspberry juice, Grape juice etc.), but regarding cancer, the research most strongly supports the use of pure pomegranate juice over all other choices in my view. I’m not a big fan of drinking juices due to the high simple sugar content and blood glucose spiking properties, but pomegranate juice is the one exception. A four ounce serving of pure pomegranate juice contains 19 grams of simple carbohydrates, or 76 calories – just slightly more than eating a whole orange.
Wang L and Martins-Green M. Pomegranate and its components as alternative treatment in prostate cancer. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2014. 15, 14949-14966.