A new study has reported that pomegranate fruit extract has beneficial effects on estrogen-sensitive tissues and may have the potential to prevent estrogen-dependent breast cancer. Pomegranate fruit has been shown to exert antiproliferative effects on human breast cancer cells in the laboratory. In the study, a methanol extract of pomegranate pericarp (the edible tissue around the seeds) was evaluated for antiproliferative activity in human breast, endometrial, cervical, and ovarian cancer cells, as well as normal breast cells.

Pomegranate extract was found to inhibit the binding of estradiol to the estrogen receptor (ER) and to suppress the growth and proliferation of ER+ breast cancer cells. At the same time, pomegranate extract was found to bind ER and reduce the expression of selected estrogen-responsive genes. The authors performed further experiments with female mice whose ovaries had been surgically removed. Unlike estradiol and tamoxifen, pomegranate extract did not increase the uterine weight of ovariectomized mice. Selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs) such as tamoxifen are used in the hormonal therapy for estrogen-dependent breast cancers. Estradiol is an estrogen that promotes the growth of ER+ breast cancer, but also has beneficial effects which women partially lose with the hormonal changes accompanying menopause. Pomegranate extract's cardioprotective effects were found to be comparable to that of estradiol. The authors conclude that pomegranate extract displays a selective estrogen receptor modulator profile and may have the potential for prevention of estrogen-dependent breast cancer, as well as having beneficial effects in other hormone-dependent tissues.

Please see our article on how to optimize your breast cancer diet for information on what to eat during all stages of treatment and recovery.