by: David Gutierrez
A type of antioxidant found in pomegranates may account for the fruit's benefit to prostate health, according to a new study conducted by researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles and published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
Researchers found that antioxidants known as ellagitannins and their metabolites accumulated in the prostates of mice in the laboratory. Then the researchers grafted prostate cancer cells onto mice whose immune systems had been deliberately hampered. They then treated one group of these mice with ellagitannins and their metabolites. The treated mice demonstrated significantly less tumor growth than mice in the control group.
“We have shown that pomegranate ellagitannins metabolites are concentrated to a high degree in mouse prostate tissues,” the researchers wrote. “The current study contributes to the increasing body of evidence demonstrating the prostate cancer chemopreventive potential of pomegranate ellagitannins.”
Pomegranates have been shown to be rich in antioxidants, and increased consumption has been correlated with improved cardiovascular health. Claims have also been made that consuming pomegranate can help slow the cartilage loss caused by arthritis while also helping prevent prostate cancer.
The same team of researchers previously demonstrated that consumption of pomegranate juice by prostate cancer patients leads to an increased doubling time for prostate specific antigen, a primary indicator of prostate cancer risk. This suggested that the fruit helps slow the growth of cancer, a hypothesis that has been supported by the current study.
Animal and laboratory studies have also suggested that pomegranate juice may also slow the progress of other types of cancer, including breast and lung cancer.
The researchers expressed hope that pomegranate may be eventually developed into a cancer treatment, but cautioned that further studies are needed before this can occur. In particular, clinical studies on humans must take place before any treatment can be developed or approved, as the fruit may function differently in the human body than in a mouse or a lab.
Consumer health advocate Mike Adams responded by saying, “Medical scientists don't need to waste time developing a treatment based on pomegranates. Mother Nature has already provided the treatment… simply eat more pomegranate seeds!” Adams is also the author of the book How to Prevent and Reverse Prostate Cancer, which encourages men to consume pomegranates, green tea, zinc and other anti-cancer nutrients.