Fruits, Phytochemicals & Breast Cancer

Fruits, Phytochemicals & Breast Cancer

If you love sinking your teeth into juicy delectable fruits, you are in luck, particularly if you know someone with breast cancer or are a breast cancer patient yourself. New research indicates that substances found in pomegranates and mangoes may be natural alternatives to breast cancer medication and other treatment options. Pomegranates and mangoes are considered to be superfruits, or fruits that are known for their exceptional nutritional richness and antioxidant qualities. The wonderful thing about fruits as natural medicines is that they are delicious, contain a variety of nutrients, and there are no side-effects as a result of their consumption.


In reference to the results of a study published in the January issue of Cancer Prevention Research, researchers say they’ve found a natural substance in pomegranates that could prevent the development of hormone-dependent cancer and stop the growth of estrogen-responsive tumors. Pomegranate fruit contains phytochemicals, specifically Urolithin B, that work like aromatase inhibitors.

Aromatase inhibitors are used by physicians to block the synthesis of estrogen in an attempt to subdue the growth of estrogen-dependent breast cancer tumors. According to the Mayo Clinic website, AI drugs come choc-full of side effects such as severe joint pain, muscle aches, hot flashes, headaches, bone fractures, fatigue, and even a risk of heart disease.

The research team for the aforementioned study discovered that natural phytochemicals found in pomegranates suppress estrogen production, thereby preventing the spread of cancer cells and the growth of estrogen-responsive tumors. One particular substance found in pomegranates – dubbed Urolithin B – significantly inhibited the growth of cultured cancer cells in the laboratory.


At Texas A&M University’s AgriLife Research department, laboratory experiments indicated that mango fruit prevented or stopped cancer growth in certain breast and colon cell lines. The experiments also showed that mango extract demonstrated some anticancer abilities when tested on prostate, leukemia and lung cancer cells. When tested on the most common breast and colon cancers, however, mango compounds were found to have even stronger cancer fighting abilities than when tested on the other types of cancer cells.

In the experiments, the researchers documented that the cancer cell division process was interrupted by the mango extract. In fact, the mango extract caused the colon and breast cancer cells to undergo apoptosis, or programmed cell death.

What do mangoes contain that may eventually have the scientific and medical communities singing their praises as worthwhile adversaries of breast cancer? The answer is polyphenols, the natural phytochemicals found in plants. Polyphenols are antioxidants with the potential to protect the body from disease.

When husband and wife food scientists Dr. Suzanne and Steve Talcott performed the experiments at Texas A&M, they evaluated specific polyphenols for effectiveness. What they found was that gallotannins were the most active cancer-fighting agents in mangoes. Gallotannins are a class of natural polyphenolic compounds believed to aid in the prevention or halt the growth of cancer cells.

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