~ Pomegranate Extract Research - Fights Cancer and Arthritis

Pomegranate Extract Kills Cancer Cells in Vivo and Vitro

In an article to be published online this week by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences researchers at the University of Wisconsin report that pomegranate juice has shown an ability fo slow the progression of cancer growth in human prostate cancer cell cultures as well as in mice.

Using a culture of highly aggressive prostate cancer cells, University of Wisconsin Medical School professor of dermatology Dr. Hasan Mukhtar and colleagues applied varying concentrations of pomegranate fruit extract and observed a dose dependent increase in programmed cell death and inhibition of cell growth. In the in vivo study, human prostate cancer cells were injected into 24 mice to cause tumor formation. The mice were given normal drinking water or water supplemented with 0.1 percent or 0.2 percent pomegranate extract from the first day following cell implanation until the study's conclusion.

The doses were selected to emulate the amount of pomegranate juice a human might be willing to consume daily. While mice who received unenhanced drinking water were found to have developed small tumors within eight days, tumors were observed in animals who received pomegranate extract after eleven to fourteen days. Tumor growth, as calculated by measuring tumor volume, was reduced in the mice who received pomegrante compared to animals who did not receive the extract, and those who received the higher dose experienced a greater degree of inhibition. Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels, a blood marker for prostate cancer, were also reduced among mice who received pomegranate.

Dr Mukhtar stated, "Our study - while early -- adds to growing evidence that pomegranates contain very powerful agents against cancer, particularly prostate cancer. There is good reason now to test this fruit in humans - both for cancer prevention and for treatment."

Pomegranate Extract Helps Protect Against Arthritis

The September 2005 Journal of Nutrition (http://www.nutrition.org/) published the findings of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine researchers that an extract derived from pomegranate fruit can block enzymes that contribute to osteoarthritis. The study is the first to show the ability of the fruit to slow cartilage deterioration.

Professor of medicine Tariq M Haqqi PhD and colleagues examined the effect of a pomegranate extract on interleukin-1b in arthritis-afflicted cartilage samples. Interleukin-1b is a protein that causes an overproduction of inflammatory molecules that include matrix metalloproteinases (MMP), enzymes that have been implicated in cartilage resorption.

The research team found that treating cartilage tissue samples with pomegranate extract prior to stimulating the cells with interleukin-1b prevented the expression of matrix metalloproteinases. The finding demonstrates that pomegranate may be able to protect cartilage in addition to its other recently discovered properties, such as its antioxidant benefits.

Dr Haqqui stated that "Arthritis is one of the foremost diseases for which patients seek herbal or traditional medicine treatments . . . Careful use of supplements and herbal medicines during early stages of disease or treatment may be made to limit the disease progression."

He added that pomegranate "has been revered through the ages for its medicinal properties. Studies in animal models of cancer suggest that pomegranate fruit extract consumption may be anticarcinogenic, whereas studies in mice and humans indicate that it may also have a potential therapeutic and chemopreventive adjuvant effect in cardiovascular disorders."

The authors conclude that in addition to helping to prevent osteoarthritis from worsening, pomegranate "may also be a useful nutritive supplement for maintaining joint integrity and function." Plans are being made to test pomegranate in an animal model of osteoarthritis and to find if the fruit is also effective against rheumatoid arthritis.
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