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Pomegranates May Help Prevent Breast Cancer

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By Laura Prus, Staff Writer

pomegranate.jpgOften hailed for their heart-healthy benefits, pomegranates have recently shown potential anti-cancer properties. A recent study revealed that eating pomegranates may help prevent breast cancer.

Pomegranate seeds produce a chemical known as ellagic acid. This chemical inhibits the estrogen-producing enzyme, aromatase, which plays a key role in breast cancer growth.

According to the American Cancer Society, 194,280 breast cancer cases were expected to occur in 2009. It has been noted that 75% of breast cancer cases are fed by estrogen.

Conducting the study
Conducted at the Beckman Research Institute of the City of Hope in California and published in Cancer Prevention Research, the study is the first to investigate the effects of pomegranate juice and aromatase. Researchers conducted laboratory tests to examine how 10 ellagitannin-derived compounds from pomegranates impacted aromatase activity and breast cancer cell growth.

Of the 10 compounds studied, urolithin B most significantly inhibited breast cancer cell growth. It is not known how much of the chemical is required to have an effect in humans, and researchers say it might not be possible to gain enough from diet alone. However, they added that including pomegranates in your diet could prove beneficial.

Further research is needed
Although results were promising, further studies will be made to determine whether consuming pomegranates will have the same effect in humans.

"More research on the individual components and the combination of chemicals is needed to understand the potential risks and benefits of using pomegranate juice or isolated compounds for a health benefit or for cancer prevention," says Powel Brown, M.D., professor and chair of MD Anderson's Department of Clinical Cancer Prevention.


Resources
Pomegranate Ellagitannin-Derived Compounds Exhibit Antiproliferative and Antiaromatase Activity in Breast Cancer Cells In vitro (Cancer Prevention Research)

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