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


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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 catechin phenolics, related 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).
  • A phase II study reported that pomegranate extract was associated with an increase of at least 6 month in PSA doubling time in both treatment arms (different doses), without adverse effects.

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 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]

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