Pomegranates have recently been in the news because of their supposed healthful qualities, including being a good source of antioxidants. Researchers have now identified a compound in the juice of the fruit that has been shown to inhibit the movement and metastasis of prostate cancer cells in culture. The hope is that the findings will lead to effective and safe therapies for preventing cancer metastasis and spread.

Researchers arrived at their findings by exposing prostate cancer cells to pomegranate juice. The cells in question were resistant to testosterone, a quality that makes cancer cells more likely to metastasize. When treated with the fruit juice, the surviving cells displayed better cell adhesion, thereby reducing their chances of breaking away and spreading.

Scientists then analyzed the juice to determine the possible factors responsible for affecting adhesion and migration in prostate cancer cells. These compounds included phenylpropanoids, hydrobenzoic acids, flavones, and conjugated fatty acids. Once identified, researchers hope to isolate and modify the chemicals in order to make them more effective at preventing metastasis.

Additionally, since many of the genes and proteins responsible for the spread of prostate cancer are similar to ones involved in other forms cancer, the authors of the study hope to apply their findings to other forms of cancer and broaden the number of treatment options.

Metastasis is the process by which cancer cells are transported and spread throughout the body. A certain protein produced in the bone marrow is important for this to occur by causing the cancer cells to migrate to the bone and thus form new tumors. Pomegranate juice appears to act upon this protein, inhibiting it and potentially preventing the metastasis of prostate cancer cells to the bone.

The next step for researchers will be to test these components in vivo models to see whether the same cancer inhibiting qualities seen in vitro will be observed. In addition to efficacy against prostate cancer, any adverse side effects will be recorded.

Prostate cancer is a leading causes of cancer death in men in this country, second only to skin cancer. While there is no cure, there are treatment options, including surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. Prostate cancer relies on the testosterone to proliferate, so suppression of this hormone is sometimes undertaken to stop the spread of the tumor. However, over time, the cancer cells can develop resistance to hormone suppression, after which they become more aggressive and metastasize to other organs, including the bone marrow, lungs, and lymph nodes. When this happens, the condition is often fatal.

If you have questions or concerns, speak with your doctor. For more information about prostate cancer, visit the website for the Prostate Cancer Foundation.