Cancer is widespread in America, killing thousands of people each year. However, various studies have found that pomegranates have anti-cancer properties, which can be used for the prevention and treatment of this dreaded disease.
How pomegranates fight cancer
The American Cancer Society estimated 1,762,450 individuals would be diagnosed with cancer this year, and another 606,880 would die from it. Billions of dollars are invested in national expenditures for cancer care, but numbers only increase each year.
Research has identified various foods with anti-cancer properties, but pomegranates stand out. Here are the reasons why:
1. Pomegranate juice helps treat prostate cancer
Prostrate cancer is the second most common type of cancer among men and claims around 31,000 lives each year.
A recent study found that pomegranate juice can be used to help alleviate prostate cancer. The researchers examined patients who underwent surgery or chemotherapy. They displayed increasing levels of PSA, or prostate-specific androgen. Measuring how long it takes for PSA levels to double helps healthcare providers assess the severity of the condition.
Researchers found that drinking eight ounces of pomegranate juice every day prolonged the doubling duration of PSA levels. In fact, the doubling interval stretched from 15 months to 54 months – showing how effective pomegranate juice was.
2. Pomegranates contain anti-cancer phytochemicals
Pomegranate has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, even more than green tea. Researchers have also noted that pomegranates help slow the spread of hormone-dependent cancers. These include breast cancer, colon cancer, and prostate cancer. (Related: Pomegranates may prevent estrogen-driven breast cancer.)
Here are some of the compounds that contribute to pomegranate’s anti-cancer properties:
- Luteolin – a flavonoid found in common plants used in traditional Chinese medicine.
- Ellagic acid – blocks the growth of ulcerative colitis, which causes intestinal cancer.
- Punicalagin – responsible for 50 percent of pomegranate’s antioxidant properties.
3. Pomegranate compounds stop cancer spread at a cellular level
There are four ways these compounds work against cancer:
- Blocks cancer cell cycle – Pomegranate compounds target the genes in cancer cells that give them the ability to divide. This limits their ability to multiply. Moreover, healthy cells are not affected.
- Induces apoptosis – It is a programmed cell death, which makes the cell shrink and cleaned out by white blood cells. Simply put, it is cell suicide.
- Limits the formation of new blood vessels for cancer – Cancer cells need new blood vessels to have a blood supply, leading to the formation of tumors. Compounds in pomegranates block the growth factors those blood vessels need to build.
- Prevents cancer spread – Cancer cells can migrate to other organs inside the body. Pomegranate compounds target this ability by affecting gene expression for migration, invasion, and metastasis (a pathogenic spread).
4. Pomegranate can enhance cancer treatment
Conventional cancer treatments currently have a lot of side effects aside from exposure to radiation. One popular treatment, chemotherapy, uses a drug called fluorouracil, and it is used to treat different types of cancers. However, these drugs have dangerous side effects; one of which is damaging the lining of the intestines.
In one study on rats, combining fluorouracil with pomegranate extracts had promising results. The presence of the extract protected the intestinal lining from the damages from fluorouacil. Moreover, it boosted the effects of cancer treatment, killing more cancer cells.
Pomegranates have a lot of potential in the future of cancer treatment, but its health benefits are clearly visible now. Instead of being exposed to radiation and its dangerous side effects, consume pomegranates today to boost your immune system and protect against cancer.
Author: Grace Olson