Ever since chemotherapy and radiation became the “standard of care”, oncology has been in the Dark Ages, often causing more harm and human suffering than it alleviates. Could the scientific community finally be waking up to the incomparable cancer-killing power of foods to cure what conventional treatment only makes worse?
One of the most important discoveries in biology and medicine of the past fifteen years is that cancer stem cells are largely responsible for the failure of conventional cancer treatment. These cells, which represent a small population of tumor cells (around 2%), are cancer cells characterized by stem cell properties such as self-renewal and the ability to give rise to all cell types found in a particular cancer sample.
These cells drive tumor development, progression, metastasis and drug resistance and are highly resistant to chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments. To the contrary, these conventional treatments actually increase their number and malignancy. Worse, conventional radiotherapy appears capable of converting non-cancerous breast cells into cancer stem cells.
The discovery of cancer stem cells at the heart of cancer malignancy reveals that the present-day standard of care in oncology is doing far more harm than good. It also indicates a desperate need for safer, more effective alternatives that exhibit selective toxicity, i.e. the ability to kill only cancer and cancer stem cells while leaving unharmed non-cancerous tissue.
Given that the cancer stem cell populations are the primary cause of treatment resistance and malignancy, any new research that sheds light on this topic has powerful implications for those who wish to use their food as medicine.
Pomegranate confirmed to be a cancer stem cell killer
Two recent studies have looked at the effects of a pomegranate extract on cancer stem cells.
The first study, titled “In vivo relevant mixed urolithins and ellagic acid inhibit phenotypic and molecular colon cancer stem cell features: A new potentiality for ellagitannin metabolites against cancer” and published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology, suggests that colon cancer stem cells (CSCs) “offer a novel paradigm for colorectal cancer (CRC) treatment.”
The researchers looked at how colon metabolites of polyphenols from pomegranate interact with and affect colon cancer stem cells. They confirmed that polyphenols from pomegranate (ellagitannin metabolites, ellagic acid, and urolithins) were able to suppress colon cancer stem cells taken from the primary tumor of a patient with colorectal cancer.
According to the study authors:
“These data support a role for polyphenols metabolites in the control of colon cancer chemoresistance and relapse and encourage the research on the effects of polyphenols against cancer stem cells”.
The second study, titled “Pomegranate Extract Alters Breast Cancer Stem Cell Properties in Association with Inhibition of Epithelial-to-Mesenchymal Transition” and published in the journal Nutrition and Cancer, evaluated pomegranate extract for its ability to alter the characteristics of both individual breast cancer stem cells, and clumps of them known as mammospheres. The study found that:
“Pomegranate extract inhibited mammosphere formation in two different cell lines, neoplastic mammary epithelial HMLER, and breast cancer Hs578T. In addition, mammosphere-derived cells from pomegranate extract treatment groups showed reduced mammosphere formation for at least two serial passages.”
Additionally, the researchers found that pomegranate extract was able to promote breast cancer stem cells differentiation (an indication of its chemopreventive properties), as well as preventing epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, a key program in generating cancer stem cells and maintaining their characteristics.
How pomegranate targets cancer cells with multiple methods of action
Three pomegranate polyphenols in particular luteolin, ellagic acid, and punicic acid, have been shown to prevent metastasis, delaying the development of tumors and inhibiting the spread and progression of prostate cancer in animals injected with human tumor cells.
Ellagic acid and punicalagin, two polyphenols in pomegranate, can prevent DNA damage. As mutations in genes set the stage for cancer, this is very good news. Pomegranate extract also interferes with abnormal cell-proliferation cycles (preventing the out-of-control proliferation that characterizes cancer) and combats inflammation by targeting pro-inflammatory molecules.
In addition, pomegranate extracts stop tumors from forming by causing apoptosis. They also inhibit angiogenesis or formation of new blood vessels to nourish the tumor. And they help stop metastasis (the invasion of healthy tissue) by suppressing production of the “protein-melting” enzymes and signaling molecules that give cancer its invasiveness.
And, finally, pomegranate extract slows the growth of many hormone-dependent cancers.
Put pomegranate polyphenols to work for you
With such a full menu of cancer-fighting benefits, it only makes sense to avail yourself of the chemoprotective powers of pomegranate juice and extracts. Although there is no established dosage for pomegranate extract, some herbalists and integrathttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26995228ive physicians advise amounts ranging from 50 ml to 240 ml a day.