Simple Health Exercises

Flashback Friday: Pomegranate vs. Placebo for Prostate Cancer

"Pomegranate vs. Placebo
for Prostate Cancer" The pomegranate has been
revered through the ages for its medicinal properties. So much so, it's been used as a symbol
for some medical organizations. A fruit seems to me a better
representation of health than a snake on a stick. Supposedly beneficial for
a wide range of diseases. Even the cannibals love it,
improving the color of "kid meat." No, they're talking
about baby goats; it just gave me a bit of a double-take
when I saw this study. Most of the attention over
the last decade has focused on pomegranates
and prostate cancer, starting with in vitro studies, showing
more and more pomegranate extract can suppress the growth of prostate
cancer cells in a Petri dish by up to 95%.

What about normal prostate cells? This is what normal prostate cells
look like under a microscope, with a little or a lot of
pomegranate extract. No real difference. Doesn't seem
to do much to healthy cells. But here's what prostate cancer looks like,
just decimated by the pomegranate. But this was in a Petri dish,
not a person. Yes, if these results translated
to the clinic it could be dramatic, but first we have
to try it out in people. Primary management
of prostate cancer consists of either radical
surgery or radiation. Despite this, a significant
number of patients relapse and ultimately develop
metastatic disease. Even after a radical prostatectomy,
in about a third of the patients the cancer comes back, as
evidenced by rising PSA levels. At that point, the treatment
options are limited; I mean, you already
took out the prostate. The next step is essentially chemical
castration, hormonal ablation. Just like breast cancer
can thrive on estrogen, prostate cancer can
thrive on testosterone, so you can try to wipe out
testosterone, but that can have such negative side-effects; anything
we can do to delay that would be good.

So what about plants? They note that men in Asia have the lowest
prostate cancer rates in the world, up to ten times less than North America.
Now is this just a genetic thing? No, when Japanese individuals
move to the United States and start eating and living like us, their breast and prostate cancer
rates shoot up right towards ours. This could be because of what
they're eating more of here: animal products are the strongest
risk factor for prostate cancer worldwide on a country-by-country basis, or because of what they're
eating less of here: their traditional low fat, high fiber diets
with soy products and green tea and plant-rich in general. So did these researchers try sticking these
cancer patients on a plant-based diet? No, they just had them drink a cup
of pomegranate juice every day. Why? Because the study was funded
by the pomegranate juice folks. At least they were allowed
to take it by mouth. So what happened? Well, in the three years
leading up to the study, their cancer was steadily growing, as measured
by their average PSA levels going up.

Then once they started the juice, their tumors continued to grow, but
it looks like they were growing slower. Now in contrast, Dr. Dean Ornish and
colleagues got an apparent reversal in early prostate cancer growth
with a plant-based diet and other healthy lifestyle changes. PSA didn't just go up slower;
it trended down. And dripping the blood of men on
prostate cancer growing in a lab, the blood serum of those eating
healthy suppressed cancer growth nearly eight times better, whereas
the blood of the men on the juice just suppressed cancer growth
by about 12%, but still, I mean to see anything just drinking a cup
of juice every day is pretty impressive. The problem is there
was no control group. Now you could say they kind of
acted as their own controls: this is them before and after. It's probably not just a coincidence that
their tumors started growing slower right when they started the juice,
but check this out. This is a drug trial trying
to do the same thing: treat men with recurring prostate
cancer after surgery or radiation. In the drug group, tumor growth
slowed in 55% of the men.

Pretty effective drug, right? The sugar pill worked
73% of the time. The placebo effect can be so powerful
that it may slow cancer growth. This is why we need
placebo-controlled trials. Maybe tricking people into drinking
pomegranate-flavored Kool-Aid would have the same effect: you think
you're doing something for yourself, and so the cancer might slow.
You don't know until you put it to the test. Finally, a randomized controlled trial
of pomegranate juice for prostate cancer, and as you can read in the title,
it had no impact. What do they mean, no impact? 25% of the cancer patients
appeared to shrink their tumors as soon as they started drinking
the pomegranate juice. Yeah, but 35% shrunk their tumors
not drinking pomegranate juice. So any effect appears
to just be a placebo. It's the same story with
pomegranate extract pills. They seemed to work until they went head to head with
sugar pills and fell flat on their face.

As found on YouTube

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *