Cancer Prevention Properties of Pomegranate

Cancer Prevention Properties of Pomegranate

Cancer is considered as the second leading cause of death worldwide. It has been assessed that by 2030 the incidence of new cancer will rise by 70% around the world due to only demographic changes.

Commonly, cancer is known as a disease of genetic origin. However, research over the past various decades has acclaimed that various environmental and epigenetic factors also play a very essential role in initiation and progression of cancer.

With no one defined reason and a number of risk factors, including old age, alcohol consumption, smoking, wrong dietary habits, sedentary lifestyle and obesity, cancer is extensively accepted as a lifestyle disease as well.

Today, despite the significant advancements in cancer treatment options, the mortality and incidences associated with cancer continues to rise. Talking in the context of cancer prevention, two-thirds of cancer-associated deaths can be prevented via lifestyle variations, majorly via dietary means.

“Medicinal system throughout different cultures have purported and promoted the use of edible things, especially those originated from plants to treat and prevent various diseases over last various centuries”

The major reason behind the astonishing properties of the vegetables and fruits to counter certain health problems are their phytochemicals. Phytochemicals of various plants are also known to show potential chemopreventive and chemotherapeutic actions. By now, nearly about 25,000 different phytochemicals have been determined in vegetables and fruits which have immense anticancer properties.

Today, you can find about 47% of the present anticancer drugs contain the derivatives of natural products or their mimics. Scientific evidence also governed in the context of daily vegetable/fruit consumption and lower risk of getting cancer.

“In recent years, the polyphenolic compounds of plants has found to be a significant impact in cancer prevention”
Out of various anti-cancer fruits, pomegranate is also a potent anti-cancer fruit. Being enriched with polyphenols, this fruit shows potential roles in cancer prevention and management.

Lets explore about this fruit and its anticancer properties in detail:

• What is pomegranate?
• List of pomegranate polyphenols
• Anticancer Activity of Pomegranate Polyphenols
• Pomegranate Polyphenols role in Cancer prevention
• Pomegranate Polyphenols role in Cancer Chemotherapy
• Conclusion

What is Pomegranate?

Pomegranate (Punica granatum) is the fruit of a deciduous tree. This fruit has been cultivated in Mediterranean region and Northern India since old times.

Pomegranate fruit is a type of rounded berry having a thick reddish skin, which casing about 200–1400 deep red to purple seeds. These seeds are edible and contain potent levels of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. The antioxidant property of this fruit is found to be strong and unique as compared to the vitamin E, vitamin C and beta-carotene. This is due to the presence of wide forms of polyphenols in it.

List of pomegranate polyphenols

Out of peel, seeds and juice, peel contain the higher content of polyphenols. This part of pomegranate contains ellagitannins.

One of the major polyphenols which present in this fruit and is unique to this is punicalagin. It is a part of ellagitannins family. This family also contains other phytochemicals, such as gallagic acid and punicalin.

Out of all phytochemicals, punicalagin holds about >50% of the antioxidant activity of pomegranate juice. Other than these polyphenols, pomegranate also contains various types of anthocyanins and flavonols.

The ellagitannins are released into pomegranate juice in considerable levels while juice processing i.e. over 2g/L juice.

These ellagitannis are hydrolyzed into ellagic acid in the gut, eventually further resulting in a prolonged release into the blood stream. This ellagic acid is further metabolized into urolithins A and B via colon microflora. These ellagic acids and urolithins circulate in blood and reach to the many target organs, like prostate and intestine.

Anticancer Activity of Pomegranate Polyphenols

It is evident from various studies that this fruit aims a wide array of proteins and genes to inhibit cancer progression and growth. There are two primary mechanisms via which the poly phenols of pomegranate act upon cancerous cells.

These are induction of apoptosis and cell-cycle arrest. In some other studies, the anti-angiogenesis and anti-metastasis activities of pomegranate have also been noticed.

Basically, the anticancer activity of pomegranate can be viewed in two approaches – chemopreventive and chemotherapeutic approach.

• Pomegranate Polyphenols role in Cancer prevention

Most chemopreventive agents are known to be antioxidants in nature. The antioxidant property of commercial pomegranate juice comes from the entire fruit.

“The antioxidant activity of pomegranate juice found to be three times higher than those of green tea infusion and red wine”

This higher antioxidant action of commercial pomegranate juice is due to its high content of punicalagin. This is found to be 1500-1900 mg per liter juice.

Punicalagin is known to inhibit oxidative DNA products significantly by about 70%. According to results of a pulse radiolysis technique, it is found that the punicalagin shows vast antioxidant variety. This involves scavenging of free radicals: reactive nitrogen species (RNS)/reactive oxygen species (ROS) and binding to metal ions such as copper and iron.

According to an analysis, the pomegranate juice found to have highest antioxidant activity, followed by total pomegranate tannin extract, punicalagin and ellagic acid.

“Ellagic acid and Punicalagin are known to considerably antagonized the impact of different mutagens with highest prohibition of mutagenicity up to 90%”

These phytochemicals along with its DNA inhibition action, also reduce inflammation, especially of colon cancer. Inflammatory and pro-inflammatory conditions can significantly initiate the formation of cancerous cells by inducing epigenetic changes and DNA damage. This fruit significantly helps to lower the intestinal inflammation.

In this manner, the pomegranate significantly aids in preventing breast, liver, skin and colon cancer.

• Pomegranate Polyphenols role in Cancer Chemotherapy

This fruit is also known to act as an essential cancer chemotherapeutic derivative. Various studies have evaluated the potential chemotherapeutic role of pomegranate against various types of cancer, such as, breast, lung, bladder, brain, leukemia and colon cancer.

For instance,

• It is found to exhibit a significant anti-proliferative impact upon estrogen positive breast cancer cell lines.
• The treatment with this fruit extract was also found to induce cell-cycle arrest of cancerous cell lines in the G1 phase.
• Oral intake of 0.2% pomegranate fruit extract found to exhibit potentially reduce your risk of getting lung cancer.
• In an analysis, it is found that pomegranate juice between 12.5 and 100  μg/mL concentrations significantly (30 to 100%) inhibit the cancer cell proliferation.
• Evident from clinical trials, this juice known to reduce human prostate cancer cell line growth by 12% and increase apoptosis action by 17 percent.


In the present scenario, cancer prevention through dietary agents is an encouraging trend of oncology. A number of studies evident that pomegranate and its polyphenols play a potent role in preventing and managing cancer pathogenesis and progression.

However, more in vitro and in vivo studies are required to evaluate the combinatorial impact of pomegranate with other compositions to assess whether synergistic or additive, or even antagonistic impacts.

“Drink two ounces of pomegranate juice daily or eat pomegranate and enrich your body with antioxidants”

Also follow a healthy lifestyle, including physically active life, lose weight (if excess) and keep track of blood sugar, other heart disease, diabetes and cholesterol levels.

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