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The potential of pomegranate and its components for prevention and treatment of breast cancer


*Corresponding Author
Department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience, University of California, 900 University Av., Riverside, CA 92521, USA


Breast cancer is the most common malignancy of women in the United States, and the second leading cause of cancer-related death in women. There is a major need for less toxic but yet effective therapies to treat breast cancer. Pomegranate fruit from the tree Punica granatum has been used for centuries for medicinal purposes and is described as “nature’s power fruit”. The unique biochemical composition of pomegranate fruit being rich in antioxidant tannins and flavonoids has recently drawn attention of investigators to study its anti-cancer effects. Recent research has demonstrated that pomegranate extracts suppress proliferation of breast, prostate, colon and lung cancer cells in vitro and inhibit the growth of breast, prostate, colon and lung tumors in vivo. This review focuses on recent investigations into the effects of pomegranate and its components on cell and molecular mechanisms involved in breast cancer progression.


Breast cancer is the most common cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death and morbidity among women in the western world (1). About 1 in 8 (12%) women in the US will develop invasive breast cancer during their lifetime. It is estimated that there will be about 232,340 new cases of invasive breast cancer diagnosed in women and about 39,620 women will die from breast cancer in 2013 (2).
In addition to surgery and chemotherapy, hormone therapy has been used to treat breast cancer because hormone-dependent breast cancer cells require estrogen to grow. Tamoxifen, an antagonist of estrogen receptor (ER), is used to treat early and advanced ER positive breast cancer (3). Aromatase inhibitors block estrogen production through inhibiting the enzyme aromatase, which converts androgen into estrogen (4). Human epidermal growth factor receptors HER1, HER2, HER3 and HER4, also known as ErbB1, ErbB2, ErbB3 and ErbB4, are transmembrane tyrosine kinase receptors that regulate cell proliferation and survival (5). Receptor homodimerization or heterodimerization induced by extracellular ligand binding activates the receptor intrace ...