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Health News Archive 321 - Lung and Prostate Cancer
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Pomegranate Inhibits Lung and Prostate Cancer

Pomegranate may have chemopreventive effects against lung and prostate carcinomas, according to abstracts of two studies presented by researchers from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, at the 97th Annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) in April.

As the leading cancer killer in men and women, lung cancer affects an estimated 350,679 Americans and causes more deaths than the next three most common cancers combined (colon, breast and prostate). While the 5-year survival rate for colon, breast, and prostate cancer patients is 63%, 88%, and 99%, respectively, it is only 15% for lung cancer patients.

As the #1 risk factor for lung disease, smoking played a significant role in the 60% increase in lung cancer incidence between 1972 and 2002. Close behind smoking is exposure to radon, a radioactive, invisible, odorless gas that comes from the decay of naturally occurring uranium in the earth's soil. Radon’s contribution to lung cancer has been so significant that the FDA issued a health advisory for radon at the beginning of 2005.

Now a new study has found that a natural way to help protect yourself against lung cancer may lie in increasing your intake of pomegranates.

Following up on research showing pomegranates to have "remarkable anti-tumor promoting effects" in mouse skin and prostate cancer, researchers treated human lung cancer cells with 50-150 micrograms per milliliter of pomegranate extract for three days. Although pomegranate extract did not induce cancer cell death, it prevented further cancer cell division by stopping activity of a number of proteins that are active during cancer.

In the first study, a pomegranate extract rich in antioxidant anthocyanins (delphinidin, cyanidin and pelargonidin) and hydrolyzable tannins (punicalin, pedunculagin, punicalagin and gallagic and ellagic acid esters of glucose), was found to inhibit the proliferation of A549 human lung carcinoma cells by inhibiting apoptosis and signaling pathways including nuclear factor kappa beta (NF-KB), leading the researchers to conclude pomegranate fruit may be an effective lung cancer chemopreventive agent.

In the second study, the researchers found the pomegranate anthocyanin delphinidin induces caspase-dependent apoptosis in human prostate cancer (PC3) cells. Delphinidin treatment of PC3 cells at a concentration of 30-300 mcM for 48 hours was found to dose-dependently inhibit cell growth and viability as assessed by trypan blue exclusion and other assays, and induce apoptosis, as assessed by the cleavage of poly ADP-ribose polymerase (PARP), flow cytometry and morphological changes. The researchers noted in the abstract, “It is tempting to suggest that consumption of pigmented fruits and vegetables containing anthocyanins could be an effective strategy to combat prostate cancer.”

Source: Khan N. Modulation of MAPK and NF-ęB pathways in human A549 lung carcinoma cells by pomegranate fruit extract. Abstract # 3193 presented at the 97th Annual AACR Conference April 1-5, 2006

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