Sunday, January 17, 2010

Pomegranates May Fight Breast Cancer in 2 Ways

A recent study found that a specific group of chemicals found in pomegranates successfully inhibited the cell growth of estrogen-positive breast cancer tumors; and, these compounds also suppressed aromatase from being used by the body to produce estrogen. So, these chemicals both prevent or slow the growth of actual cancer cells, and, they simultaneously create an environment detrimental to the creation of estrogen-positive tumor cells. Right now, one specific compound called urolithin B was found to have the greatest significant effect upon inhibiting the growth of breast cancer cells.

Because pomegranates have a high antioxidant content, they have gotten attention in recent years. You can easily find pomegranate juice and juice drinks containing pomegranate in supermarkets these days. I myself have been drinking a cranberry-pomegranate juice combination for well over a year now, because it's not soda (!) and I enjoy the taste.

Being 2 years into a 5-year course of an aromatase inhibitor (Arimidex), I know that many women discontinue these drugs due to severe joint pain, increase of fractures, and uncontrollable flushing/sweating. I haven't experienced joint pain, I take Fosamax weekly (which is thought to also prevent against cancer spreading to the bones), and daily meds for the increased flushing events. I will continue to take Arimidex faithfully until the end of my 5 years.

It would be extremely beneficial to patients who can't tolerate the aromatase inhibitors if eating pomegranates or drinking pomegranate juice could equal the drugs' proven results. One question is, how much pomegranate would have to be consumed, and how often, in order for the phytochemicals to be effective? Also, the results can be markedly different in a laboratory environment versus being tested on actual patients. What works in a petri dish, sadly, does not always work in the bloodstream.

I am hopeful about this news, and until then, it certainly couldn't hurt for estrogen-positive breast cancer patients to add pomegranate products to their diet. Aromatase inhibitors are still the most effective treatment for hormone-positive cancer, and we should keep this in mind.

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