The prostate gland is part of the male reproductive system. It surrounds a portion of the urethra and makes some components of semen. As a man ages, the prostate sometimes enlarges in a condition called benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH, a noncancerous condition. Prostate cancer, common in older men, also causes enlargement of some regions of the prostate. Pomegranate juice has natural medicinal properties that may help prevent or slow prostatic enlargement from either BPH or prostate cancer. Discuss pomegranate juice with your doctor to decide if it might help you.
Causes, Symptoms and Testing
The exact causes of both BPH and prostate cancer are still unknown, although BPH may be due to age-related changes in sex hormones, and DNA damage may change normal prostate cells into cancerous cells. Both disorders can cause similar symptoms, including difficulty urinating with a weak stream of urine, a frequent urge to urinate and incomplete emptying of the bladder. Blood may appear in the urine at times, frequent urinary tract infections may occur, and, in prostate cancer, later stages may cause:
- pelvic or hip pain
- painful ejaculation
Elevated blood levels of prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, might indicate the presence of either BPH or prostate cancer; additional testing will confirm a final diagnosis.
What Food or Drink Can Raise Your PSA Levels?
Pomegranate, also called Chinese apple, is the fruit of a large tree native to Iran and cultivated in many other parts of the world. Pomegranates contain hundreds of seeds, each surrounded by a juicy layer of pulp called the aril.
Pomegranate juice inhibits an enzyme that produces estrogen, which is a possible cause of BPH in older men, according to the National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse 5. Compounds in pomegranate juice are also potent antioxidants that remove free radicals from your body. These metabolic byproducts and environmental toxins may damage your cellular membranes or DNA, raising the risk that normal prostatic cells may become cancerous. The University of Maryland Medical Center summarizes laboratory studies indicating that pomegranate juice inhibits growth of cancer cells, causes them to die and reduces growth of blood vessels into tumors 346. In addition, in a clinical study of pomegranate juice published in "Clinical Cancer Research" in 2006, men who had surgery or radiation for prostate cancer and drank 8 ounces of pomegranate juice daily had a reduction in their rate of PSA production and other indications of slower regrowth of their cancer 26.
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Pomegranate juice is available from specialty or health food stores, or you may purchase fresh pomegranates and press the seeds to produce juice. Drinking 8 to 12 ounces of pomegranate juice daily is considered safe, although it may worsen diarrhea or interact with medications, such as certain types of hypertension drugs and cholesterol-lowering medicines. Talk to your doctor before adding pomegranate juice to your regular regimen.
What Food or Drink Can Raise Your PSA Levels?
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- National Institute on Aging: Prostate Problems
- Clinical Cancer Research; Phase II Study of Pomegranate Juice for Men with Rising Prostate-Specific Antigen Following Surgery for Prostate Cancer; A. Pantuck et al.
- Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center: Pomegranate
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Pomegranate
- National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse: Prostate Enlargement: Benign Prostatis Hyperplasia
- Harvard Medical School: Health Benefit of Pomegranate Juice on Prostate Cancer and the Heart
- Pomegranate. Professional Monograph. Natural Medicine Database. Therapeutic Resource Center. 5/6/2019
- Bassiri-Jahromi S. Punica granatum (Pomegranate) activity in health promotion and cancer prevention. Oncol Rev. 2018;12(1):345. Published 2018 Jan 30. doi:10.4081/oncol.2018.345
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- Danesi F, Ferguson LR. Could Pomegranate Juice Help in the Control of Inflammatory Diseases?. Nutrients. 2017;9(9):958. Published 2017 Aug 30. doi:10.3390/nu9090958
- Hidaka M, Okumura M, Fujita K, Ogikubo T, Yamasaki K, Iwakiri T, Setoguchi N, Arimori K. Effects of pomegranate juice on human cytochrome p450 3A (CYP3A) and carbamazepine pharmacokinetics in rats. Drug Metabolism and Disposition. 33.5 (2005):644-8.
- Ismail T, Sestili P, Akhtar S. Pomegranate peel and fruit extracts: a review of potential anti-inflammatory and anti-infective effects. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 2012;143(2):397-3405.
- Kim H, Yoon YJ, Shon JH, Cha IJ, Shin JG, Liu KH. Inhibitory effects of fruit juices on CYP3A activity. Drug Metabolism and Disposition. 34.4 (2006):521-3.
- Sahebkar, A., Ferri, C., Giorgini, P., Bo, S., Nachtigal, P., & Grassi, D. (2017). Effects of pomegranate juice on blood pressure: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Pharmacological Research, 115, 149–161. doi:10.1016/j.phrs.2016.11.018
- Sharma P, McClees SF, Afaq F. Pomegranate for Prevention and Treatment of Cancer: An Update. Molecules. 2017;22(1):177. Published 2017 Jan 24. doi:10.3390/molecules22010177
- Sorokin AV, Duncan B, Panetta R, Thompson PD. Rhabdomyolysis associated with pomegranate juice consumption. American Journal of Cardiology. 98.5 (2006):705-6.
- Taheri Rouhi SZ, Sarker MMR, Rahmat A, Alkahtani SA, Othman F. The effect of pomegranate fresh juice versus pomegranate seed powder on metabolic indices, lipid profile, inflammatory biomarkers, and the histopathology of pancreatic islets of Langerhans in streptozotocin-nicotinamide induced type 2 diabetic Sprague-Dawley rats [published correction appears in BMC Complement Altern Med. 2017 Apr 13;17 (1):214]. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2017;17(1):156. Published 2017 Mar 14. doi:10.1186/s12906-017-1667-6
- Wang D, Özen C, Abu-Reidah IM, et al. Vasculoprotective Effects of Pomegranate (Punica granatum L.). Front Pharmacol. 2018;9:544. Published 2018 May 24. doi:10.3389/fphar.2018.00544
- Zarfeshany A, Asgary S, Javanmard SH. Potent health effects of pomegranate. Adv Biomed Res. 2014;3:100. Published 2014 Mar 25. doi:10.4103/2277-9175.129371
Joanne Marie began writing professionally in 1981. Her work has appeared in health, medical and scientific publications such as Endocrinology and Journal of Cell Biology. She has also published in hobbyist offerings such as The Hobstarand The Bagpiper. Marie is a certified master gardener and has a Ph.D. in anatomy from Temple University School of Medicine.