American men are at higher risk of heart disease than women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC reports that heart disease is the leading cause of death among men -- responsible for about 25 percent of all male deaths. Men are also at risk of certain reproductive problems, such as prostate cancer, which strikes 200,000 American men each year, and erectile dysfunction, a problem for many older men. Research suggests that natural compounds in pomegranate juice may help prevent or improve symptoms of these disorders in men.
The pomegranate is a many-seeded fruit produced by a native Asian tree (Punica granatum). Also called Chinese apple, juice from pomegranates is rich in a group of natural phytochemicals called polyphenols that give it its bright red color. These compounds are potent antioxidants that help your body rid itself of free radicals, the unstable chemicals formed during digestion, in your skin when you're in sunlight or in your organs after exposure to environmental toxins. Over time, free radicals can damage cellular membranes and DNA, raising your risk of cancer, coronary artery disease and other chronic disorders.
Experts at the University of Maryland Medical Center summarized results of laboratory research on pomegranate juice's anti-cancer properties, concluding that it may slow the growth of cultured cancer cells and cause them to die. In addition, the juice may inhibit growth of cancerous tumors in laboratory animals, possibly by cutting off blood supply to tumors. In a clinical trial published in the July 2006 issue of "Clinical Cancer Research," researchers found that male subjects with prostate cancer who drank 8 ounces of pomegranate juice daily had slower increases in a cancer marker, prostate-specific antigen. Their rate of cancer cell growth also declined while cell death increased during the trial. These findings still need confirmation in placebo-controlled studies.
Consuming pomegranate juice might also help relieve symptoms of erectile dysfunction, according to preliminary results of a study published in the November-December 2007 issue of the "International Journal of Impotence Research." This study found that erectile function tended to improve in men who drank pomegranate juice daily, compared to a placebo group. Although the improvement wasn't significant, the authors concluded that the positive finding warrants further study with a larger group of subjects. According to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center website, consuming pomegranate juice might also improve circulatory problems in subjects with high blood pressure, elevated blood cholesterol or coronary artery disease, although the center indicates that further study is still needed to confirm these benefits.
Including the Juice in Your Diet
Although no minimum effective dose of pomegranate juice has been established to improve your health, drinking 8 to 12 ounces daily is generally considered safe, but you should opt for 100 percent juice without added sugar. Pomegranate juice might interact with some medications, such as drugs used to treat high blood pressure or elevated cholesterol, and blood-thinning medicines. Talk to your doctor about pomegranate juice to decide if consuming it regularly might be helpful for you.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Prostate Cancer Statistics
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Men and Heart Disease Fact Sheet
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Pomegranate
- Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center: Pomegranate
- Clinical Cancer Research: Phase II Study of Pomegranate Juice for Men With Rising Prostate-Specific Antigen Following Surgery or Radiation for Prostate Cancer
- International Journal of Impotence Research: Efficacy and Safety of Pomegrante Juice on Improvement of Erectile Dysfunction in Male Patients With Mild to Moderate Erectile Dysfunction -- A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Double-Blind, Crossover Study.