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Posted on: 04 April 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

Can tomatoes protect against prostate cancer?

Can tomatoes protect against prostate cancer?

Many recent studies into possible treatments for prostate cancer have concentrated on lycopene, an antioxidant commonly found in tomatoes and tomato-based products. As with many preventative factors no firm benefit of eating a diet rich in tomato based products has ever been firmly established, but a diet rich in lycopene is commonly perceived to reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer.

With this in mind, a new study at Northwestern University in the United States aims to determine whether natural tomato oil with a high concentration of lycopene may reverse or delay progression of high-grade prostate cancer tumours known as prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (HGPIN), a condition in which abnormal cells form within the prostate.

The condition is the strongest risk factor yet identified for the development of prostate cancer in men.

Lycopene has been proven to have anti-tumour activity in a number of laboratory studies and has been used in a number of cancer studies in humans, which did result in a lower cancer rate in people with a high dietary intake of lycopene.

Research has shown over twenty percent reduced risk for developing prostate cancer in men who ate more cooked tomato products, such as tomato sauce. Additional studies showed that cooking tomatoes and eating them with oil substantially increases the bioavailability of lycopene.

 

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