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New tomato prostate cancer link

Wednesday February 1st, 2012

British researchers have made new discoveries showing how the redness in tomatoes may protect men against cancer, it was announced yesterday.

Laboratory studies have shown how the chemical lycopene, found in tomatoes, may prevent cancer cells from getting access to the body's blood supply.

The finding is the latest to suggest lycopene may help prevent prostate cancer. Lycopene gives redness to many fruit and vegetables but is most heavily concentrated in tomato.

The researchers stress their findings do not prove that lycopene is a treatment for prostate cancer and need to be tested on real human patients.

But researcher Dr Mridula Chopra, of Portsmouth University, UK, said it seemed as if the prostate was able to collect lycopene.

She said: "The simple chemical reaction was shown to occur at lycopene concentrations that can easily be achieved by eating processed tomatoes.

"The laboratory evidence we have found is clear – it is possible to intercept the simple mechanism some cancer cells use to grow at concentrations that can be achieved by eating sufficient cooked tomatoes."

The research, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, was backed by baked beans manufacturer Heinz - although the researchers say they had a commitment to publish the findings whatever they discovered.

Dr Chopra added: "Individuals will vary in how much lycopene their bodies make available to fight cancer cell growth and the ability of lycopene to ‘intercept’ in this way in the body is likely to vary between tomato products – both processing and cooking with fat have previously been shown to make lycopene more effective biologically.

"The type of tomatoes which offer the most effective lycopene also differs and more tests need to be done to find the best breed of tomato for this purpose."

Eleanor Barrie, of Cancer Research UK, added: "This small study doesn’t directly tell us if lycopene has any effect against cancer, but research like this can help us to understand more about how the chemical affects blood vessel formation."

British Journal of Nutrition January 2012

Tags: Cancer | Diet & Food | Menís Health | UK News

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