Did mom tell you to eat your fruits and vegetables? She was right. We have been counseled for years (albeit, at times under duress) that eating more fruits and vegetables is not only a healthy lifestyle move, it can also help stay off chronic diseases. So it comes as no great shock that researchers have found new evidence to back up mom.
Eating fruits, such as pomegranates, that contain anti-aromatase phyochemicals reduce the incidence of hormone-dependent breast cancer, according to results of a study published in the January 2010 issue of Cancer Prevention Reserch, a journal of the American Assocation for Cancer Research.
What makes pomegranates a super fruit? They are enriched with a series of compounds known as ellagitannins, a phytochemical, shown to inhibit the proliferation of human cancer cells and to cause cancer cell apoptosis -- a kind of nuclear level “cell suicide” process.
"Phytochemicals suppress estrogen production that prevents the proliferation of breast cancer cells and the growth of estrogen-responsive tumors," said principal investigator Shiuan Chen, Ph.D., director of the Division of Tumor Cell Biology and co-leader of the Breast Cancer Research Program at City of Hope in Duarte, Calif.
Previous research has shown that pomegranate juice is high in antioxidants, which are generally attributed to the fruit's high polyphenol content. Ellagic acid found in pomegranates inhibits aromatase, an enzyme that converts the steroid hormone, androgen, to estrogen. Since aromatase plays a key role in breast carcinogenesis, Dr. Chen, along with Lynn Adams, Ph.D., a research fellow at Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope, and colleagues, evaluated whether phytochemicals in pomegranates can suppress aromatase and ultimately inhibit breast cancer cell growth.
After researching a panel of ten ellagitannin-derived compounds in pomegranates, the investigators found that those compounds have the potential to prevent estrogen-responsive breast cancers. Specifically, Urolithin B, which is a metabolite produced from ellagic acid and related compounds, was found to significantly inhibited cell growth.