Phytochemicals in pomegranate may suppress aromatase, an enzyme that converts androgen into estrogen and that has been implicated in hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer, researchers report.
Aromatase inhibitors, such as anastrozole (Arimidex®), exemestane (Aromasin®) and letrozole (Femara®), are sometimes prescribed to postmenopausal women with hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer. Estrogen promotes the growth of these cancer cells, but aromatase inhibitors lower estrogen levels in the body.
Pomegranate is rich in vitamin C and antioxidants, and some early evidence suggests that it may have preventative effects against prostate cancer.
The researchers tested 10 ellagitannin-derived phytochemicals from pomegranates in cultured breast cancer cells. They found that all 10 compounds, particularly urolithin B, inhibited breast cancer cell growth.
Although promising, these findings are preliminary, and it is unclear if similar beneficial effects would be observed in animal or human trials. Patients are encouraged to talk with their healthcare providers before trying any new therapies.
Pomegranate juice is also commonly used to help prevent atherosclerosis; however, evidence of effectiveness is inconclusive in this area. Early research also suggests that pomegranate may be beneficial as a treatment for erectile dysfunction and high cholesterol. However, more data are needed before a conclusion can be made.
For more information about integrative therapies for cancer, please visit Natural Standard's Comparative Effectiveness database.