The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Dr. Nalini Chilkov Headshot

Pomegranates: Fall Fruit With Cancer-Fighting Potential

Posted: Updated:

Greek myths tell us that pomegranates, the fruit of Persephone, can guarantee a return to spring each year. And modern science tells us that pomegranates may indeed be a fruit of the Goddess in its capacity to alter cancer cell growth in a multiplicity of ways.

There are hundreds of studies on pomegranate and cancer. Cancer physiology is complex. Remarkably, constituents of this ruby red fruit speaks to a number of significant pathways in the development and growth of cancer cells. Some researchers say that pomegranates and pomegranate juice have the potential to prevent cancer growth. Most of the research has been done on breast cancer, prostate cancer and lung cancer.

Five Reasons to Include Pomegranates in an Anti-Cancer Diet:


  • Super Antioxidant: Pomegranates are high in polyphenols, which support normal cell protection by combating oxidative stress, which protects DNA from damage, one of the first steps in the development of cancer cells.
  • Supports Inflammation Control: Leading to lower levels of key inflammatory molecules, many of which are present in cancer cells and surrounding tissues.
  • May act to modify the production of aromatase, an enzyme that increases hormone production in breast tissue. Hormone dependent cancers such as breast cancer are commonly treated with aromatase inhibitors, which block this enzyme. It seems nature has provided us with similar, but milder activity from foods, thus decreasing the effect of estrogens in the tissue. Many breast cancers are stimulated by estrogen.
  • May influence the proliferation and growth of cancer cells.
  • May support factors that inhibit the spread of cancer cells throughout the body (metastasis).

Pomegranates are a fruit of the fall/winter season. Now is the time to enjoy the fresh seeds and juice. Pomegranate sauces are enjoyed in many Middle Eastern cuisines. Bottled pomegranate juice and syrup can be found year round in many grocery and natural foods stores.

You may also enjoy:

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. You should always speak with your physician or other healthcare professional before taking any medication or nutritional, herbal or homeopathic supplement, or adopting any treatment for a health problem.

References

  • Seeram NP, Adams LS, Henning SM, et al. In vitro antiproliferative, apoptotic and antioxidant activities of punicalagin, ellagic acid and a total pomegranate tannin extract are enhanced in combination with other polyphenols as found in pomegranate juice. J Nutr Biochem.2005;16(6):360-7.
  • Larrosa M, Gonzalez-Sarrias A, Garcia-Conesa MT, Tomas-Barberan FA, Espin JC. Urolithins, ellagic acid-derived metabolites produced by human colonic microflora, exhibit estrogenic and antiestrogenic activities. J Agric Food Chem. 2006;54(5):1611-20.
  • Chen S, Kao YC, Laughton CA. Binding characteristics of aromatase inhibitors and phytoestrogens to human aromatase. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 1997;61(3-6):107-15Kim ND, Mehta R, Yu W, et al. Chemopreventive and adjuvant therapeutic potential of pomegranate (Punica granatum) for human breast cancer. Breast Cancer Res Treat.2002;71(3):203-17