Pomegranate juice components block cancer cell migration

January 27, 2011

in Health News,Studies

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(NaturalNews) One of the most dreaded consequences of cancer is when the disease metastasizes — meaning it spreads from the primary site where it started to other parts of the body. But University of California, Riverside (UCR) scientists have announced what could be a major breakthrough in halting metastasis. They’ve discovered components in pomegranate juice that inhibit the movement of cancer cells and weaken the attraction of malignant cells to a chemical signal that has been shown to promote metastasis.

The UCR findings were just presented at the American Society for Cell Biology’s 50th Annual Meeting, which is being held in Philadelphia. Specifically, the research team from the UCR laboratory of Manuela Martins-Green, Ph.D., found that pomegranate juice seems to block the spread of prostate cancer cells to the bone. The group is planning additional tests to determine the effects of various doses of the natural pomegranate compounds and whether there are any side effects.

In earlier studies, Dr. Martins-Green and her colleagues used a standardized concentration of pomegranate juice on two types of laboratory-cultured prostate cancer cells that were resistant to the male hormone testosterone. Scientists have long known that when cancerous cells are resistant to testosterone, that’s an indicator those cells have a strong potential to metastasize. Not only did the research team find pomegranate juice killed many cancer tumor cells — the pomegranate juice treatment also increased cell adhesion and decreased cell migration in those cancer cells that had not died.

Because the genes and proteins involved in movement of prostate cancer cells are essentially the same as those involved in movement of other types of cancer cells, the same modified components of the juice could have a much broader impact in cancer treatment.”

Next the scientists analyzed the pomegranate juice to figure out which specific ingredients produced the molecular impact on cell adhesion and migration in metastatic prostate cancer cells. Dr. Martins-Green, graduate student Lei Wang and undergraduate student Jeffrey Ho discovered the answer: phenylpropanoids, hydrobenzoic acids, flavones and conjugated fatty acids found in the fruit.

“This is particularly exciting because we can now modify these naturally occurring components of the juice to improve their functions and make them more effective in preventing prostate cancer metastasis,” Dr. Martins-Green said in a media statement.“Because the genes and proteins involved in movement of prostate cancer cells are essentially the same as those involved in movement of other types of cancer cells, the same modified components of the juice could have a much broader impact in cancer treatment.”

The idea that pomegranate phytochemicals have an anti-cancer effect isn’t new. In fact, evidence has been steadily accumulating over the past few years that along with other health benefits (such as soothing inflammation in the body and potentially reducing the risk of heart disease) pomegranates can prevent and/or treat cancer. For example, earlier in 2010, NaturalNews reported on a study published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research showing that phytochemicals known as ellagitannins found in pomegranate fruit could prevent the development of hormone-dependent breast cancer and halt the growth of estrogen-driven tumors (more here…).

In addition, in a 2006 study of prostate cancer patients who drank eight ounces of pomegranate juice every day, UCLA researchers found a decline in prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels that suggested a potential slowing of cancer progression. More recently, the results of a long-term study published in the Journal of Urology concluded pomegranate juice may effectively slow the progression of prostate cancer, even when regular treatment has failed (more here…).

However, despite all the science showing pomegranate juice could have anti-cancer effects, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has come down hard on claims about those potential benefits. In Sept. 2010, the FTC filed a lawsuit against Pom Wonderful, the natural foods company that provided the pomegranate juice for the UCLA research and has supported other research on pomegranate juice, charging the company’s claims about the juice’s health benefits were misleading.

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