Pomegranate and the Cancers Men and Women Fear

By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness

March 23, 2012

  • How pomegranate can help when you hormones turn on you
  • Staying cancer-free once you’ve beaten it
  • What might make pomegranate a double-edged sword

You don’t stand up against a deep-pockets government agency unless you think you have some pretty convincing evidence in your favor.

In today’s issue, you’ll see why POM Wonderful was willing to spend the time and money going to trial to fight the FTC. Sure, they are fighting for their product and their company. And for your right to be informed.

But let’s not forget the underlying reason. The pomegranate itself.

Pomegranate comes with a laundry list of health benefits. In the next two issues of this three-part series, you’ll discover how the pomegranate might address your two biggest health concerns: cancer and aging.

As men and women age, our risk of getting prostate or breast cancer increases. Seems pomegranate may have a chilling effect on the cells that produce these twin hormone-inspired cancers…

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Certainly, no cancer is good cancer. But there are those we fear more than others as we age. For men, prostate cancer. For women, breast cancer.

Both of these cancers are hormone-related.

Estrogen dominance is suspected to play a role in each. This hormonal imbalance can affect both men and women. It becomes more pronounced with age. And our food and other lifestyle choices also play a role.

The problem with estrogen dominance is that estrogen feeds tumors. The older we get, the more estrogen we have, and the less androgen and testosterone. As that balance changes, we become more susceptible to hormone-related cancers.

Millions of women learned this the hard way. Breast cancer rates skyrocketed when doctors routinely prescribed laboratory-created estrogen replacement therapy for women in menopause. Those rates dropped considerably once the link with breast cancer was discovered and the number of women taking this therapy was cut in half.

Now we are beginning to understand the complex and symbiotic relationship between hormones and cancer. And we are on the lookout for anything that helps us maintain balance – and avoid estrogen dominance.

Here’s where pomegranate could play a big role…

Pomegranate is a rich source of a plant-based nutrient called ellagic acid. Ellagic acid inhibits aromatase, an enzyme that turns androgen into estrogen. Aromatase plays a significant role in both breast and prostate cancers.

The highest concentration of ellagic acid is found in the rind of the pomegranate. This means you’ll find this enzyme at higher concentrations in pomegranate extract than in the juice. The extract can be a bit bitter, which is why it’s not found in abundance in the bottled juice.

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After The Cancer Is Gone

For men who’ve had – and beaten – prostate cancer, the threat of recurrence looms large. The good news is 2-out-of-3 men are able to beat the cancer if detected early enough.

The bad news? A third of them face rising PSA levels. And 34% of those men progress to the deadly, metastic prostate cancer within 15 years.

A recent study showed drinking an 8-ounce glass of pomegranate juice every day significantly slowed the rise in PSA numbers after cancer treatment. In one study, PSA levels remained steady for six years.

This could be a major health breakthrough for men who have faced prostate cancer. In the next phase of the study, 10 medical centers around the country will test this outcome in a placebo-controlled clinical trial.

The same study has not been done for women who have had and beaten breast cancer. But if this one critical enzymatic reaction is indeed the same, or even similar, it’s quite possible the protective benefit will also work for breast cancer survivors.

If you beat a hormone-related cancer such as breast or prostate cancer, I’d recommend you incorporate an 8-oz glass of pomegranate juice into your daily routine. If you are diabetic, check with your doctor first and make sure your overall sugar load is adjusted accordingly.

And here’s another interesting link, this time between heart disease and prostate cancer, that may make pomegranate an important part of your diet…

A recent study just reported that men with heart disease have a higher risk of prostate cancer.

Over 6,000 men were pre-screened for a number of factors such as heart disease, alcohol intake, medication use and other health statistics. Men with coronary disease had a 24% increased risk of developing prostate cancer within two years. By the four-year mark their prostate cancer risk was 74% higher than those without coronary disease.

This may also explain further why pomegranate studies show the fruit has a benefit for both heart and prostate health. If the two diseases are related, the cure may be as well.

In the next issue of Advanced Natural Wellness, I’ll look at the anti-aging properties of pomegranate. And also, why you need to beware of products that jump on the pomegranate bandwagon…without really delivering much pomegranate goodness.


Resources:

Rettig MB, et. al., Pomegranate extract inhibits androgen-independent prostate cancer growth through a nuclear factor-kappaB-dependent mechanism. Mol Cancer Ther. 2008 Sep;7(9):2662-71.

Adhami VM, et. al., Oral infusion of pomegranate fruit extract inhibits prostate carcinogenesis in the TRAMP model. Carcinogenesis. 2012 Jan 13. [Epub ahead of print]

Thomas JA, et. al., Prostate Cancer Risk in Men with Baseline History of Coronary Artery Disease: Results from the REDUCE study. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2012 Feb 7. [Epub ahead of print]

Basu A, Penugonda K., Pomegranate juice: a heart-healthy fruit juice. Nutr Rev. 2009 Jan;67(1):49-56.

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