NMU 23 – Influence of Pomegranate Juice on Prostate and Other Cancers – Prevention and ComplementaryTreatment
Nutrition / Natural Medicine Update No. 23 Sept 1, 2016
with Dr. James Meschino
Research Topic: Influence of Pomegranate Juice on Prostate and Other Cancers – Prevention and ComplementaryTreatment
Source: International Journal of Molecular Sciences (2014)
I’m not a big fan of drinking fruit juices or even vegetable juices that are sweet, like carrot juice. It’s much better to eat the fruit than to drink the juice, as pure fruit juice is a concentrated source of simple carbohydrates that will spike your blood sugar, and often contribute to weight gain. The same is true for carrot juice and vegetable juices that are sweet tasting. The one exception to the rule is “PURE POMEGRANATE” juice. It is the one juice that has been shown in clinical studies with human subjects to slow and even reverse to some degree, the progression of prostate cancer – 2nd leading cause of cancer death. Preclinical studies suggest that pomegranate juice may also help to defend against breast cancer and some other cancers. The recommended 4 oz daily serving has 19 grams of simple carbohydrates, or 76 calories – just slightly more than eating an orange. So, it’s not highly damaging.
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”.
What all of this means is the following. Constituents in pomegranate juice have been shown to:
- Suppress the growth of the various human prostate cancer cells used in standard prostate cancer experimental studies
- PJ and PE extract also encourage prostate cancer cells to commit suicide, something known as apoptosis or programmed cell death, in experimental studies with prostate cancer cells
- PJ and PE have also been shown to decrease the synthesis of certain hormones known to promote the proliferation of prostate cancer cells, – namely dihydrotestosterone and other androgen hormones
- PJ and PE also 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.
- PJ and PE also 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.
- PJ and PE have also been shown to 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
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 (cell suicide) 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 conclude, “ 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 that 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 hyped for their outstanding health benefits (Noni juice, Acai berry juice, Guava Juice, Raspberry juice, Grape juice etc.), but the actual research most strongly supports the use of pure pomegranate juice over all other choices. I’m not a big fan of drinking juices, but pomegranate juice is the one exception.
I’ve included a link to the research review paper below if you wish to examine the research in more detail for yourself.
Wang L, Martins-Green M. Pomegranate juice and its constituents as alternative treatment for prostate cancer. Int J Molecular Sciences. 2014. 15, 14949-149666.