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Breast cancer

Pomegranates reduce the risk of breast cancer

Thursday, May 20, 2010 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: breast cancer, pomegranates, health news

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(NaturalNews) Regular consumption of pomegranate may help prevent breast cancer, according to a study conducted by researchers from the City of Hope and published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research.

Researchers tested 10 different naturally occurring pomegranate compounds, all of them in the ellagitannin family of chemicals. They found that some of the ellagitannins significantly reduced the activity of the enzyme aromatase in the laboratory.

In the body, aromatase transforms the hormone androgen into the hormone estrogen. Because 75 percent of breast tumors contain estrogen receptors and use the hormone to fuel their growth, aromatase inhibitors are a popular form of treatment for slowing the growth of breast tumors in post-menopausal women.

Pharmaceutical aromatase inhibitors include the AstraZeneca drug Armidex, the Pfizer drug Aromasin and the Novartis drug Femara.

"We were surprised by our findings," researcher Shiuan Chen said. "We previously found other fruits, such as grapes, to be capable of the inhibition of aromatase. But phytochemicals in pomegranates and in grapes are different."

Of the 10 chemicals tested, urolithin B was the most effective at aromatase inhibition. Researchers offered two caveats to their findings, however. First of all, the body does not absorb ellagitannins into the blood very effectively from the digestive tract. Second of all, the researchers tested very high doses of the chemicals, much higher than those found in pomegranate. This suggests that an actual pomegranate-based cancer treatment may still be far in the future.

"We do not recommend people start taking this as a replacement for the [aromatase inhibitors]," Chen said. "[Pomegranate compounds] are not as potent as the real drugs so we think that the interest probably is more on the prevention end rather than in a therapeutic purpose."

Pomegranate juice has been shown to be rich in a wide variety of antioxidants that are believed to reduce the risk of not only cancers, but also other chronic conditions such as Alzheimer's and cardiovascular disease.

Sources for this story include: www.reuters.com; www.webmd.com.

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