Anti-Cancer Benefits of Pomegranate

New Study Finds Pomegranate Metabolite Improves the Body’s Natural Ability to Fight Cancerous Cells

Colorectal cancer (CRC) is an increasing concern for health as it is the 3rd most commonly diagnosed form of cancer worldwide. A recent study done by Dominic Denk et. al is providing a huge stride in the right direction for CRC treatment.Anti-Cancer Benefits of Pomegranate

Pomegranate metabolites have always shown promising effects in healthcare. There are numerous articles boasting their ability to improve digestion, the cardiovascular system, anti-aging effects, and a plethora of other great benefits. Since this study, anti-cancer effects can be added to the list of the health effects of pomegranate.

But how exactly did they confirm this? And how does it work? 

In this article, we will break it all down for you. 

We’ve known some of the other health benefits of pomegranates like:

But in this article, we want to focus on…

Anti-Cancer Benefits of Pomegranate

This isn’t the first time that we have seen studies stating that pomegranate has a fantastic role in fighting cancer. Other studies have shown that pomegranate in all forms (fruit, juice, extract, and oil) can help the body with fighting cancer. 

Pomegranate has been shown to have anti-cancer effects like anti-inflammatory, anti-proliferative, and anti-tumor.

It appears to help with multiple types of cancer, too. Some studies have been on colon cancer like this one. Others have studied pomegranates’ effects on breast, skin, prostate, and lung cancers

Dr. Dominic Denk and his colleagues wanted to see what ways pomegranate could benefit immunotherapies. So this study focused on the mechanisms that pomegranate utilizes to boost the immune system be able to fight cancer itself (as opposed to other treatments like chemotherapy or radiation).

The Study at a Glance: Expansion of T memory stem cells with superior anti-tumor immunity by Urolithin A-induced mitophagy

That is a mouthful. But don’t freak out. We are about to break it down so it is easier to digest. 

To quickly unpack that wordy title, what the researchers found is that Urolithin A (UA) helps improve the T memory stem cells health, which was previously a barrier when it came to fighting CRC. 

UA is what makes pomegranates so powerful in the fight against cancer. UA is a metabolite that is the result of your gut microbes breaking down ellagitannins, a major polyphenol group, found in pomegranate. 

Mitophagy is a fancy term for the natural process of your body removing and recycling damaged mitochondria.

So in other words the title could read: this study found that UA improves the body’s ability to remove damaged mitochondria, thereby improving the T memory stem cells’ health to avoid exhaustion and improve their anti-cancer influences.

Specific Findings in the Study: Pomegranate metabolite improves the body’s ability to fight cancerous cells 

Researchers did multiple studies during this research period to come to their conclusions. There were three major parts to this study.

  1. They started with rat models
  2. Then moved on to in vitro (using test tubes or Petri dishes) 
  3. Then they did ex vivo testing (taking samples from humans and testing them outside of the body) 

It was extensive and very thorough. 

The different avenues of testing led them to these conclusions:

UA stifles intestinal tumor growth via T cells

Prior to this study, it was unclear how UA suppressed tumor growth. Through this study, they realized that UA supports the T cells by clearing out damaged mitochondria and recycling parts to promote the growth of new and healthy mitochondria. 

T cells during cancer treatment can become exhausted and no longer function at their highest ability. By keeping the mitochondria healthy, UA allows the T cells to remain healthy and fight tumor cells easier.

UA promotes T memory stem cell differentiation

It doesn’t treat all cells the same way and only affects certain ones to achieve the anti-cancer goals seen here. So the UA is actually selective when it comes to improving cell function. Oftentimes we see cancer treatments attacking everything (healthy cells included — which is why immunotherapy is a preferred method of treatment if possible). So the fact that UA is selective in what it helps support is a big deal.

UA works synergistically with immunotherapy and adoptive T-cell therapy. 

Immunotherapy focuses on boosting your natural immune response to fight cancer. UA is a boost to this boost. UA was shown in this study to improve the effects of both immunotherapy and adoptive T-cell therapy.

UA works on the cytosolic release of Pgam5 which helps degrade the damaged mitochondria 

T cells become healthier when UA comes in and revamps the mitochondria lifecycle. It removes the old and less functional mitochondria. Then it activates Wnt signaling which ignites mitochondrial biogenesis. 

In other words, it helps new (healthier) mitochondria grow in the T cells preventing exhaustion. This then improves the body’s natural anti-tumor immunity to reduce tumors and help to prevent new ones from forming. 

UA promotes human T memory stem cell growth which leads to improved CAR T memory stem cell generation

Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy is an engineered therapy that trains leukocytes to find and attack cancerous cells

This is important as we stated earlier because initially, cancer treatments couldn’t differentiate between healthy and cancerous tissues. This would lead to unnecessary damage to healthy tissue and an excessive immune response where it wasn’t needed. 

CAR T-cell therapy was a HUGE step in the right direction of cancer treatment, however, it had been difficult to ensure its efficiency. UA actually helped to improve the accuracy of CAR T-cell therapy.

So what does this mean for cancer research?

This is a great step in the right direction. While this isn’t a cure-all and isn’t foolproof by any means it paves a new path of study for researchers to improve cancer treatments. The next steps would include figuring out exactly how UA affects the mitochondrial process along with coming closer to doing human in vivo studies. 

This is exciting research for cancer researchers, oncologists, and patients. We can’t wait to see where it goes from here.

So how can you go about getting more UA in your body? Eat more pomegranates or other foods that are high in ellagitannins! Diet is a key factor in the prevention and fight against cancer. 

So, grab a cup of tea (which is high in ellagitanins) and check out these articles to get you started on getting more pomegranate in your body:

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