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Prostate Cancer, Nutrition, and Dietary Supplements (PDQ®): Complementary and alternative medicine - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Pomegranate

Overview

This section contains the following key information:

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  • The pomegranate (Punica granatum L.) is native to Asia and cultivated widely throughout world.
  • Various components of the pomegranate fruit contain bioactive compounds, including phenolics, flavonoids, and anthocyanins, some of which have antioxidant activity.
  • Pomegranate juice and extract, as well as some of their bioactive components, inhibit the proliferation of various prostate cancer cell lines in vitro and induce apoptotic cell death in a dose-dependent manner.
  • Cytochrome P450 enzyme inhibition and effects on insulin-like growth factor binding protein -3 (IGFBP-3) have been identified as being involved in the in vitro anticancer activity.
  • Studies in rodent models of prostate cancer have shown that ingestion of pomegranate juice can decrease the rate of development, growth, and spread of prostate cancer.
  • The only fully reported clinical trial of the use of pomegranate juice in men with prostate cancer showed that, on average, study participants who drank the juice had an increase in their prostate-specific antigen (PSA) doubling time.
  • No serious adverse effects have been reported in clinical trials of pomegranate juice administration (8 oz per day for up to 33 months).

General Information and History

The pomegranate (Punica granatum L.) is a member of the Punicaceae family native to Asia (from Iran to northern India) and cultivated throughout the Mediterranean, Southeast Asia, East Indies, Africa, and the United States.[1] The history of the pomegranate goes back centuries—the fruit is considered sacred by many religions and has been used for medicinal purposes since ancient times.[2] The fruit is comprised of peel (pericarp), seeds, and aril (outer layer surrounding the seeds). The peel makes up 50% of the fruit and contains a number of bioactive compounds, including phenolics, flavonoids, and ellagitannins, and minerals such as potassium, magnesium, and sodium. Arils are mainly composed of water and also contain phenolics and flavonoids. Anthocyanins, which are the most abundant flavonoid present in arils, are responsible for the fruit's and its juice's red color.[3] The majority of antioxidant activity comes from ellagitannins.[4]

Research studies suggest that pomegranates have beneficial effects on a number of health conditions, including cardiovascular disease,[5] and may also have positive effects on oral or dental health.[6]

Preclinical Studies/Animal Studies

Research studies in the laboratory have examined the effects of pomegranate on many prostate cancer cell lines and in rodent models of the disease.

In vitro studies

Ellagitannins (the main polyphenols in pomegranate juice) are hydrolyzed to ellagic acid, and then to urolithin A (UA) derivatives. According to a tissue distribution experiment in wild-type mice, the prostate gland rapidly takes up high concentrations of UA after oral or intraperitoneal administration (0.3mg/mouse/dose). Ellagic acid was detected in the prostate following intraperitoneal, but not oral, administration of pomegranate extract (0.8mg/mouse/dose).[7]

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WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

Last Updated: February 25, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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