July 1, 2006

Pomegranate 1, Cancer 0

Pomegranate juice greatly reduced the doubling time in prostate cancer patients.
Every time you go to the supermarket, you seem to be faced with another wonder food that claims to fight cancer, prevent heart disease or do your taxes.

The latest hot food is pomegranate juice, a syrupy, pricey substance that stores couldn't have given away a couple of years ago.

According to a new UCLA study, however, there might actually be something to this food phenomenon.

The three-year study found that giving men with prostate cancer an eight ounce glass of pomegranate juice every day dramatically stalled the disease's progress.

The UCLA study looked at 50 men who had undergone surgery or radiation but soon afterward experienced increases in a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) that indicates the presence of cancer. Researchers measured how long it takes for PSA levels to double, a signal that the cancer is progressing, said urology professor Dr. Allan Pantuck, lead author of the study.

Doubling time is crucial in prostate cancer, Pantuck said, because patients who have short doubling times are more likely to die from their cancer. The average doubling time is about 15 months. The men in Pantuck's study who were given daily pomegranate juice saw their doubling times increase to 54 months.

"That's a big increase. I was surprised when I saw such an improvement in PSA numbers," Pantuck said. "In older men 65 to 70 who have been treated for prostate cancer, we can give them pomegranate juice and it may be possible for them to outlive their risk of dying from their cancer."

Other research has shown that pomegranate juice has anti-inflammatory effects and high levels of antioxidants, which are believed to protect the body from free-radical damage.

The UCLA study appears in the July 1 issue of Clinical Cancer Research, the journal of the American Association of Cancer Research.
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