Is it true that pomegranate juice may slow the growth of prostate cancer? How much should I drink?
Answers from Erik P. Castle, M.D.
Some research suggests that drinking pomegranate juice may slow the progression of prostate cancer. For example, in a study of men with recurrent prostate cancer and rising prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels, researchers found that taking pomegranate juice extract significantly slowed the rate at which PSA was rising (PSA doubling time). A longer PSA doubling time can indicate that the cancer may be progressing less rapidly.
But this study did not use a control or placebo group. Nor did it measure overall survival.
Another study found that the length of time it took for PSA to double after surgery or radiation for prostate cancer was significantly longer in men who drank 8 ounces (237 milliliters) of pomegranate juice daily for up to two years. Other studies have found that certain compounds in pomegranate juice inhibited growth of prostate cancer cells in the laboratory.
Although these results are encouraging, they're only preliminary. Several additional clinical trials are underway, and it's too early to say if pomegranate juice can definitely slow the growth of prostate cancer. It's also unclear whether drinking pomegranate juice alters the course of prostate cancer overall so that men live longer or better.
If you choose to drink pomegranate juice, talk with your doctor first. Although pomegranate juice is generally safe, there is evidence that it may affect how your body processes certain prescription medications. Those medications include the blood thinner warfarin (Coumadin) and some drugs used to treat high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
May. 04, 2013
See more Expert Answers
- Pomegranate. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. http://www.naturaldatabase.com. Accessed April 5, 2013.
- Klempner SJ, et al. Complementary and alternative medicines in prostate cancer: From bench to bedside? Oncologist. 2012;16:830.
- Paller CJ, et al. A randomized phase II study of pomegranate extract for men with rising PSA following initial therapy for localized prostate cancer. Prostate Cancer and Prostatic Diseases. 2013;16:50.
- Koyama S, et al. Pomegranate extract induces apoptosis in human prostate cancer cells by modulation of the IGF-IGFBP axis. Growth Hormone and IGF Research. 2010;20:55.
- Hong MY, et al. Pomegranate polyphenols down-regulate expression of androgen-synthesizing genes in human prostate cancer cells overexpressing the androgen receptor. The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. 2008;19:848.
- Pantuck AJ, et al. Phase II study of pomegranate juice for men with rising prostate-specific antigen following surgery or radiation for prostate cancer. Clinical Cancer Research. 2006;12:4018.