The extract or juice of the pomegranate shows major promise to combat prostate cancer, say researchers at University of Wisconsin Medical School. Earlier research has shown that the pomegranate is rich in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity, and is effective against tumours in mouse skin. In fact, pomegranate juice has higher anti-oxidant activity than do red wine and green tea, both of which appear promising as anti-cancer agents.

The research team looked at whether the extract from pomegranates would not only kill existing cancer, but also help prevent a malignancy from starting or progressing. Using human prostate-cancer cells, they found the higher the dose of pomegranate extract the cells received, the more cells died.

The team then progressed to tests in mice that had been injected with prostate cancer cells from humans and developed malignancies. The 24 mice were randomly divided into three groups – a control group and two groups that received drinking water with two levels of pomegranate extract, chosen to parallel how much pomegranate juice a typical healthy human might be willing to eat or drink daily.

The results were dramatic: the mice receiving the higher concentration of pomegranate extract showed significant slowing of their cancer progression and a decrease in the levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA), a marker used to indicate the presence of prostate cancer in humans. The animals that received only water had tumours that grew much faster than those in the animals treated with pomegranate extract.