Looking for a breast cancer prevention diet? Scientists from the Breast Cancer Research Program at City of Hope in Duarte, CA have shown that phytochemicals derived from pomegranates have the ability to inhibit the proliferation of estrogen-responsive breast cancer cells in a laboratory setting.
“Phytochemicals suppress estrogen production that prevents the proliferation of breast cancer cells and the growth of estrogen-responsive tumors,” Shiuan Chen, PhD, director of the Division of Tumor Cell Biology and co-leader of the Breast Cancer Research Program at City of Hope in Duarte, Calif., says in a press release for the American Association for Cancer Research.
Breast Cancer Prevention Diet Includes Pomegranates
Long regarded in many cultures as a symbol of prosperity and fertility, the pomegranate has garnered attention in modern times for its wide-reaching medicinal potential. In 2011, the National Institutes of Health registered 32 clinical trials evaluating the effects of pomegranates on diseases and dysfunctions ranging from cancer to diabetes to common cold to infant brain injury.
Much of pomegranate’s healing potential has been attributed to its high concentration of antioxidants, which have been associated with cancer prevention in multiple studies, but this study is the first to specifically examine the fruit’s effect on aromatase, an enzyme that plays a key role in estrogen-sensitive breast cancer by converting androgen to estrogen. Ellagitannins in pomegranates inhibit aromatase, thereby decreasing the amount of estrogen available in the body and thus the growth of hormone-sensitive cancer cells – making pomegranates great for including in your breast cancer prevention diet.
Estrogen-sensitive breast cancer, which accounts for about 75% of cases, is commonly treated with aromatase-inhibitors (AIs) whose common side effects include heart problems, bone loss and joint pain. While pomegranates alone may not be able to replace aromatase-inhibitors, one can’t help but note the promise of a natural alternative to these drugs that promotes heart health.
In an article entitled Pomegranates May Help Prevent Breast Cancer on the MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Cancerwise blog, Dr. Powel Brown, M.D., professor and chair of MD Anderson’s Department of Clinical Cancer Prevention, calls for further research. “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.”
The American Institute for Cancer Research, which has also issued grants to scientists at Southern Illinois University to further investigate the effects of pomegranate juice on hormonal biomarkers of breast cancer risk, is less reserved with its recommendation, featuring pomegranate prominently among its cancer fighting recipes.
Be sure to also include turmeric, olive oil, papaya, celery, ginger, and plenty of omega-3 fats in your breast cancer prevention diet!