Research indicates estrogen is a key factor in 60-65% of breast cancer cases.

What a betrayal! It seems that our “special” hormone . . . the one associated with womanhood . . . responsible for steering us through so many of life’s cycles and stages – has turned against us.

But it gets worse . . . If estrogen plays a role in breast cancer, is it safe to consume foods like pomegranate that have plant estrogens or phytoestrogens?

Do these plant forms of estrogen increase our risk for breast cancer?

Well, in the case of the pomegranate –  the answer is clear. No they don’t.

In fact it’s the opposite. Pomegranate can actually help fight off cancer. Over a dozen compounds in pomegranate have been associated with warding off cancer.

But even more intriguingly, these special plant estrogens found in pomegranate may help specifically in fighting estrogen positive cancer.

The Journal of Natural Biochemistry published initial but tantalizing research conducted by a team from The Integrated Cancer Research Program at the Rajiv Gandhi Center for Biotechnology in India.

In this study, the researchers administered pomegranate peel extract to several different breast cancer cell lines in petri dishes. For comparison’s sake they also treated the same cell lines with 17β- estradiol, the form of estrogen produced by your body that’s associated with breast cancer. And they treated the same cell lines with ICI, an anti-estrogen compound often used to treat estrogen positive breast cancer in conventional medicine.

The results were telling:

When the cells were hit with 320 μg/ml of pomegranate peel extract, only about 30% of the cancer cells survived. This is in contrast to the cells treated with the more standard anti-estrogen drug, ICI. One hundred μg/ml of ICI still allowed close to 60% (two times the number!) of breast cancer cells to survive.

But here’s where pomegranate really stands out when it comes to contending with estrogen positive breast cancer. . .

They also applied the pomegranate peel extract to cell lines that had been given a dose of the 17β- estradiol. (Remember? The estrogen in your body associated with promoting breast cancer?)

Pomegranate peel extract cut the number of cancerous cells down by half – even when they were souped up on this powerful form of estrogen, estradiol.

It’s important to note that while research using other pomegranate extracts have shown positive effects in slowing a wide variety of cancers, in this study, the same dramatic results were not observed with cancer cell lines that were not associated with estrogen positive breast cancer.

As the researchers point out, many plant forms of estrogens act as what’s called a selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM).

Essentially, this means that they fit into the estrogen receptor spot on cells. But unlike strong estrogens like 17β-estradiol, they don’t spark any response from the cell.

And because they occupy this receptor spot, the more powerful estradiol can’t slip in and trigger the receptor.

  • You can learn more about how weaker, plant-based estrogens can help counter the negative effects of stronger estrogens in this article on hormonal balance.

Now of course, this research is preliminary. It hasn’t even made it to the animal testing level yet, let alone a clinical trial.

It’s a big step to move from test tube to human body.

Nonetheless, the results are promising . . . And so comforting as well.

There are plenty of things to fear when it comes to your risk for breast cancer.

Now you know the pomegranate (and its forms of natural estrogen) isn’t one of them.



Sreeja et al. Pomegranate extract demonstrate a selective estrogen receptor modulator profile in human tumor cell lines and in vivo models of estrogen deprivation. Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.  August 10, 2011.

4 Responses to “ Are You Afraid Of The Pomegranate’s Natural Estrogen? ”

  1. Anne Marie Chibber says:

    Thank you so much for your information, It has certainly put my mind at ease. It is promising to see that studies have been made on the pomegranate. Such a wonderful fruit with so many jewels inside its crown.

  2. Yamini Kaul says:

    I don’t know about the estrogen part, but I really like pomegranate and was happy to read this article and find out that this fruit is really deserving of its title, that is “king of fruits.” I need to eat it right away so off I am.

  3. Moira Hamel-Smith says:

    Thanks for this exciting info. One question , the study used the extract of the skin (peel), how do know if the juice and the seeds have the same compounds ?

  4. Pomegranate Janet says:


    Good question. The answer gets complicated. The entire fruit is loaded with many beneficial compounds. And each part of the fruit (peel, juice, seed kernel, even the leaf and flower) has unique compounds not found in other parts of the fruit. There have been dozens of published studies about how each of the parts of the fruit contains compounds that can possibly fight cancer. Some are more powerful than others, but what is most interesting is some studies have found a synergistic effect, meaning that combinations of the parts of the fruit are much more powerful than when isolated. This is the beauty of nature! It is also important to note is that with all these studies, the pomegranate was never shown to promote or stimulate any cancer growth in any way.

    If you want to learn more about this topic, there is an excellent short book written by two cancer researchers – Dr. Robert Newman and Dr. Ephraim Lansky.

    Their book is Pomegranate: The Most Medicinal Fruit.

Leave a Comment