Cancer is the second leading cause of death and is becoming the leading one in old age. Vegetable and fruit consumption is inversely associated with cancer incidence and mortality.
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Currently, interest in a number of fruits high in polyphenols has been raised due to their reported chemopreventive and/or chemotherapeutic potential. Pomegranate has been shown to exert anticancer activity, which is generally attributed to its high content of polyphenols. This review provides a comprehensive analysis of known targets and mechanisms along with a critical evaluation of pomegranate polyphenols as future anticancer agents. Pomegranate evokes antiproliferative, anti-invasive, and antimetastatic effects, induces apoptosis through the modulation of Bcl-2 proteins, upregulates p21 and p27, and downregulates cyclin-cdk network.
Furthermore, pomegranate blocks the activation of inflammatory pathways including, but not limited to, the NF-κB pathway. The strongest evidence for its anticancer activity comes from studies on prostate cancer. Accordingly, some exploratory clinical studies investigating pomegranate found a trend of efficacy in increasing prostate-specific antigen doubling time in patients with prostate cancer.
However, the genotoxicity reported for pomegranate raised certain concerns over its safety and an accurate assessment of the risk/benefit should be performed before suggesting the use of pomegranate or its polyphenols for cancer-related therapeutic purposes.
Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2015;2015:938475. doi: 10.1155/2015/938475. Epub 2015 Jun 9.
Turrini E1, Ferruzzi L1, Fimognari C1.
Department for Life Quality Studies, Alma Mater Studiorum, University of Bologna, 47921 Rimini, Italy.