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December 14, 2010

Pomegranate may help prevent prostate cancer metastasis

Pomegranate may help prevent prostate cancer metastasis

The American Society for Cell Biology's 50th Annual Meeting held in Philadelphia was the site of a presentation on December 12, 2010 concerning the finding by researchers at the University of California, Riverside of compounds in pomegranate that protect against prostate cancer metastasis.

In 2006, University of California, Los Angeles researchers observed a reduction in the increase of prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels in men with prostate cancer who consumed 8 ounces of pomegranate juice per day. (Prostate specific antigen is a serum tumor marker that is measured to evaluate progression of the disease.) Researchers involved in the current study, led by Manuela Martins-Green, PhD of UC Riverside, previously found that specific pomegranate juice concentrations increased cell death in two prostate tumor cell lines that were resistant to testosterone (which is associated with a greater propensity toward metastasis), as well as increased cell adhesion and decreased migration and cells that survived. The team determined that pomegranate juice affects genes involved in adhesion and migration machinery.

The current research conducted by Dr Martins-Green's lab identified phenylpropanoids, hydrobenzoic acids, flavones and conjugated fatty acids as compounds responsible for the effects in the cancer cells that were not destroyed. In addition to inhibiting the growth of the tumor cell lines, the compounds inhibited their migration and attraction to a signal that promotes metastasis to the bone.

"This is particularly exciting because we can now modify these naturally occurring components of the juice to improve their functions and make them more effective in preventing prostate cancer metastasis," Dr Martins-Green stated. "Because the genes and proteins involved in movement of prostate cancer cells are essentially the same as those involved in movement of other types of cancer cells, the same modified components of the juice could have a much broader impact in cancer treatment."

"We expect that further testing for dose-dependent effects, side-effects, etc. should allow usage of these components as a more effective treatment for metastatic prostate cancer than simply drinking the juice," Dr Martins-Green and her associates conclude.

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Health Concern Life Extension Highlight

Prostate cancer

We know that the main danger in prostate cancer (PC) is its ability to metastasize to the bone. The bone is a favored place when PC cells metastasize. Stephen Paget discussed this in 1889 in his essays on The Seed and the Soil:

When a plant goes to seed, its seeds are carried in all directions; but they can grow only if they fall on congenial soil.

Paget recognized this inclination for cancer of the breast to spread to the bone. The same proclivity is found in PC. Prostate cancer and breast cancer are brother/sister diseases, strikingly alike in a multitude of ways. Most physicians consider the bone a static tissue, but it is exactly the opposite. The bone is constantly undergoing change in a process called remodeling. Bone tissue is formed and lost in the processes of bone formation and bone resorption. This remodeling of the bone tissue occurs every 100 days.

The dynamic nature of the bone tissue has been described in medical literature in thousands of peer-reviewed publications. Many patients and physicians are surprised to learn that the bone is extremely rich in growth factors. These growth factors have been implicated in PC growth and metastasis. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that prostate cancer cells consider the bone a haven or sanctuary--congenial soil, to use the words of Paget.

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