Prostate and pomegranates

There’s new hope for men with prostate cancer when their disease doesn’t respond adequately to standard medical care. According to the results of a six year study just published in the Journal of Urology, pomegranate juice can lower PSA levels and slow down the progress of prostate cancer.

This was a two-stage clinical trial where each research subject had a rising prostate specific antigen (PSA) level after surgery or radiation therapy greater than 0.2 ng/ml and less than 5 ng/ml. The study participants were given eight ounces of pomegranate juice to drink daily for several years. Then patients who remained in the study and drinking pomegranate juice were compared to those no longer participating in the juice regimen.

Though both these groups of men with prostate cancer had demonstrated similar mean PSA doubling times at baseline when the study began, there was a clear and important difference in the groups after 56 months. The researchers are cautious about suggesting pomegranate juice could prevent prostate cancer, but anyone receiving treatment could add it to their diet and be getting a range of other health benefits.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK and over the last 30 years rates in Great Britain have almost tripled, although much of the increase is due to increased detection through widespread use of the PSA test. Prostate cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in UK men, after lung cancer, though happily the survival rate has more than doubled. Around 7 in 10 newly diagnosed prostate cancer patients now survive beyond five years whereas in the 1970s it was only 3 in 10.

Pomegranate juice benefits for everyone As it has very good antioxidant properties, it has been evaluated for its usefulness in fighting certain forms of cancer and been tentatively shown to reduce incidence of breast and skin cancer. It has many health benefits particularly for heart disease, heart attacks and stroke.

These include:

  • it works well as a blood thinner
  • is an agent for promoting blood flow to the heart
  • reduces plaque in the arteries
  • raises “good” levels of cholesterol
  • helps lower “bad” cholesterol

Prostate health and Zinc

As I am a great believer in pro-active health care, there is another story about prostate health that came up this week that I thought might prove revealing. The risk of prostate cancer is increased if a man is exposed to enough cadmium, a toxic heavy metal that many people are regularly exposed to. It is present in cigarette smoke, so anyone exposed to that – even secondhand – is at risk.

Cadmium is also an environmental pollutant, pumped into the air by various industries and the burning of coal and household wastes. Once airborne, cadmium can travel long distances, eventually falling to ground or into water. We can then ingest it through our diet; particularly from fish and shellfish or vegetables grown in soil that has absorbed cadmium from the air water. According to the Department of Health and Human Resources, “Cadmium stays in the body a very long time and can build up from many years of exposure to low levels. However, it is not all doom and gloom because just adding a little of the mineral zinc to your diet can counteract its effects as US researchers at Rochester have found. Apparently, zinc prompts the production of a protein that binds cadmium to help move the toxin out of the body. Plus, zinc enhances your immune system, helps repair damaged tissues, inhibits the abnormal clotting that contributes to cardiovascular disease, assists in maintaining healthy vision, and is one of the key elements required for DNA reproduction and repair. Sounds like it’s worth increasing in your diet doesn’t it? Good dietary sources of zinc include cabbage, red meat, poultry, beans, nuts, whole grains, and dairy products.