Israeli researchers have found that pomegranates could have important implications for breast cancer treatment and the safety of oestrogen replacement therapy. Technion-Israel Institute of Technology found that pomegranate seed oil triggers apoptosis, a self-destruct mechanism, in breast cancer cells. In addition, pomegranate juice can be toxic to most oestrogen-dependent breast cancer cells, while leaving normal breast cells largely unaffected. Oestrogen is a hormone prescribed to protect postmenopausal women against heart disease and osteoporosis. "Pomegranates seem to replace the oestrogen often prescribed to protect postmenopausal women against heart disease and osteoporosis, while selectively destroying dependent-dependent cancer cells," explains Dr. Ephraim Lansky, who headed the studies. In the first study, laboratory-grown breast cancer cells were treated for three days with pomegranate seed oil. The researchers observed apoptosis in 37 to 56 per cent of the cancer cells, depending on the dose of oil applied. In the second study, both normal and cancerous breast cells were exposed to pomegranate wine and pomegranate peel extracts, which contain polyphenols. The vast majority of the normal cells remained unaffected by the two pomegranate derivatives. But more than 75 per cent of the oestrogen-dependent cancer cells, and approximately half of the non-oestrogen dependent cancer cells were destroyed by exposure to these same pomegranate products. Dr. Martin Goldman, a New York-based board certified internist and life medicine specialist, notes, "this is apparently a safe substance that could be helpful to many people, especially women at high-risk for developing breast cancer." According to Dr. Lajos Pusztai, an assistant professor who studies breast cancer at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Centre in Houston, Dr. Lansky's study "provides a potential new avenue to develop anti-cancer drugs from a natural compound." Technion researchers have tested other health benefits of pomegranates, showing their antioxidant potency and ability to lower oxidation of LDL cholesterol, leading to the elimination of plaques in arteries.