Pomegranate’s Power Over Prostate Cancer

CURE, Summer 2011, Volume 10, Issue 2

Pomegranate’s Power Over Prostate Cancer

A new randomized study has added to the body of research on the efficacy of pomegranate in slowing the progression of prostate cancer. The study, conducted at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, indicates that taking one, 1-gram pomegranate pill a day may help slow the progression of prostate cancer.

In the study, 104 men with rising PSA scores after local therapy and no metastases were divided into two study arms. One arm took three grams of pomegranate extract (three pills) while the other took one gram of extract in one pill and two placebo pills. The men were treated for 18 months or to progression of their cancer.

Both arms showed evidence of slower tumor growth as measured by PSA doubling time. The low-dose group increased from 11.9 months before therapy to 18.8 at the end of therapy, and the high-dose arm rose from 12.2 months to 17.5. PSA levels actually declined in 13 patients.

Pomegranate has been identified as a significant nutraceutical by researchers who point to its high antioxidant and flavonoid content.

Simon Yeung, PharmD, an herbalist and expert in botanicals at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, says studies involving pomegranate have shown it may increase the rate of cell death in prostate cancer, but he advises that much larger, randomized studies are needed.

“We can’t recommend pomegranate as cancer prevention yet because we need a good, large trial to see what the facts are,” Yeung says.

Yeung manages the Sloan-Kettering website on herbs and botanicals (mskcc.org/aboutherbs) and says that it’s important to talk with your doctor before using any herbs since some—pomegranate included—can inhibit the enzymes used to metabolize other drugs.