POM Wonderful?


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I was just spending my Monday night innocently watching TLC when I was compelled, not once, but TWICE by the same fishy commercial from POM Wonderful-- a beverage claiming to have the equivalent of 4 full pomegranates-- to write a blog. The commercial vaguely states that the benefits of POM Wonderful are proven by "modern scientific science." Right... And the proof for that would be?

Well, I did some investigating and this is what I discovered on their website:
"In 1998, POM initiated modern scientific research to understand the health benefits of Wonderful variety pomegranates. To date, we have provided over $35M in research support to top scientists, including a Nobel Laureate, at leading universities around the world.

70 total studies, including 16 clinical studies, have been published in peer-reviewed journals."

"Hmmm" I said to myself. Let's look at this situation: big company + $35 million dollars + funding-starved "top scientists" at "leading universities around the world." To me, that does not spell out a recipe for definitive evidence of the benefits of drinking POM. I became even more suspicious with their final statement, "Preliminary results have been encouraging and many additional research studies are in progress." Also vague.

So, I went to their link to the studies. Boy, even if the effects of pomegranates are super fantastic, POM does a pretty poor job of hiding the fact that they are pumping money into these studies. The link took me to a different site called, "Wonderful Pomegranate Research." With the same color scheme, pictures, and layout of the POM Wonderful site, I literally had to roll my eyes a little bit. According to the site, in each of the 65 commissioned studies, "Subjects received a minimum of eight ounces of POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice or 850mg POMx pomegranate polyphenol extract per day." The studies were then divided into the categories of: bioavailibility, cancer (prostate and non-prostate), cardiovascular, cognitive function, composition, immunity, inflammatory disorders, reproductive, review articles, safety, skin care, and sports physiology. From what I gathered from some of the studies, they basically gave glowing reviews of the effects of POM Wonderful in their experiments.

Well, being that all of the 65 studies, funded by POM Wonderful, were just about bursting with excitement about POM's effects, I decided to look into some non-funded-by-POM research. It turns out that pomegranate has quite a few benefits. According to healthdiaries.com Pomegranate has tons of great benefits. Here are some they listed:
1. Studies in Israel have shown pomegranate to kill breast cancer cells while leaving healthy cells alone.
2. In studies involving mice, pomegranate slowed the growth of prostate cancer.
3. Several recent studies have shown that consumption of pomegranate juice by pregnant mothers may protect her unborn child's brain.
4. Pomegranate may help prevent clogging of arteries from plaque build up. It also lowers bad cholesterol and raises good cholesterol.

While these benefits are based on generally very small studies or a few number of studies, they still sound pretty good. And they go in hand with POM's sponsored 65 studies. But, everything has a downside. So what is bad about pomegranate?

According to webMD.com pomegranate is generally considered either "likely safe" or "possibly safe." As far as consumption, most people can eat it without having any negative side effects. However, some people experience "allergic reactions to pomegranate fruit." When applied to the skin or gums, it is classified as "possibly safe" because "Some people have experienced sensitivity to pomegranate including itching, swelling, runny nose, and difficulty breathing." Most often, people who have allergies to other plants are likely to experience an allergic reaction to pomegranate. It is also considered a possible danger for women who are breast-feeding. While most people assume that drinking pomegranate juice is probably safe, other forms of the fruit including extract are "iffy." Another significant concern is pomegranate's effect on blood pressure. Because it is believed to lower blood pressure, doctors advise patients to stop consuming pomegranate for at least two weeks before surgery. By far the most concerning aspect of pomegranate consumption is that the roots and stems should never be consumed-- they are poisonous. Not good.

Overall, it seems to me that the effects of pomegranate are pretty good if consumed safely. Would you start drinking POM Wonderful today because of this blog? Would you buy POM Wonderful because they funded all of those studies? Or do you even look at those studies when making your decision? 

(Does anybody even like pomegranate? I've never had it..)


2 Comments

I have nothing against POM's products (except for maybe the fact that a bottle costs an arm and a leg compared to other drinks) but using self funded studies to extoll how amazing your product is, is not going to get me to come rushing to buy it. Vague, positive "findings" about the juice just make everything sound as if POM just paid $35 million in advertising. And pomegranate juice is interesting...not my favorite thing in the world, though.

Very interesting! I agree with your statement: "While these benefits are based on generally very small studies or a few number of studies, they still sound pretty good. And they go in hand with POM's sponsored 65 studies. But, everything has a downside." Maybe POM does have certain downsides that are not apparent in their ads because, unlike ads for medications, non-alcoholic beverages are not required to state their side-effects. Could the effects of advertising have evolved over time?

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