Early-stage testing credits pomegranate juice with cancer benefits

In collaboration with the Press Association

A small, early stage study has claimed that prostate cancer sufferers whose cancer had returned after surgery were able to slow its advance by drinking a glass of pomegranate juice daily.

PSA levels, a key bio-marker indicating the presence of prostate cancer, remained low among the patients given pomegranate juice for four times as long as other patients.

The average "doubling-time" ? the time taken to for PSA levels to double following unsuccessful treatment ? is 15 months. This was boosted to 54 months among patients given the juice.

"That's a big increase. I was surprised when I saw such an improvement in PSA numbers," said researcher Dr Allan Pantuck of the Jonsson Cancer Centre.

"In older men 65 to 70 who have been treated for prostate cancer, we can give them pomegranate juice and it may be possible for them to outlive their risk of dying from their cancer.

"We're hoping we may be able to prevent or delay the need for other therapies usually used in this population such as hormone treatment or chemotherapy, both of which bring with them harmful side effects."

The researchers said that the mechanism behind the results remains a mystery, and that the researchers are planning to progress to a much larger scale clinical trial.

"More research is needed before we will know for sure whether pomegranate juice can help in the fight against cancer," said Dr Laura-Jane Armstrong of Cancer Research UK.

"This is a small, but promising study, suggesting that pomegranate juice may slow down the growth of some prostate cancers after initial treatment with surgery or radiotherapy.

"If the results of this study can be confirmed, it could have important implications for prostate cancer patients, especially by delaying the use of other more aggressive treatments that can have debilitating side effects.

"We look forward to hearing more about the planned large scale trial."

The research is published in the US journal Clinical Cancer Research.

Find out more about how diet and cancer are linked