As reported by the Chinese network TV company China Central Television (CCTV), a study published yesterday in the medical journal "Cancer, Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention" (CEBP) suggests; eating a diet rich in tomato products may help prevent prostate cancer; which ranks as the second most common form of cancer among men worldwide.
Vanessa Er from the University of Bristol is quoted as saying, “Our findings suggest that tomatoes may be important in cancer prevention”, but she also cautioned by adding “However further studies need to be conducted in order to confirm our findings, especially in human trials. Men should still eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, maintain a healthy weight and remain active”.
The study which was carried out by a team of British researchers from the Universities of Bristol, Cambridge and Oxford respectively consisted of analyzing the diet and lifestyles of 1,806 men aged between 50 and 69 who had contracted this deadly disease, results were then compared with data from 12,005 cancer free men.
It was found that men who consumed in excess of 10 portions of tomatoes per week had an 18% lower risk of contracting prostate cancer. Disease rates are higher in developed countries which some experts believe is linked to the western diet and lifestyle.
This is the first study of its kind to develop a dietary index comprised of selenium, calcium or lycopene. In a BBC report released yesterday health editor Helen Briggs stated “The cancer fighting properties of tomatoes are thought to be due to Lycopene an antioxidant which can prevent against DNA and cell damage”.
Lycopene is the pigment which gives the characteristic red color to the skins of certain fruits and vegetables it is also a member of the carotenoid family. The best source of lycopenes is to be found in tomato and tomato based products, (although it can also found in watermelon and pink grapefruit,) one cup (240 ml) of tomato juice provides approximately 23 mg of lycopene.
When heat is applied to raw tomatoes as in the processing of tomato juice, tomato paste and ketchup etc…, the lycopene changes into a form that can be utilized more effectively by the body, hence the cooked product of red tomatoes is actually more desirable than the raw product.
Tomatoes do not necessarily need to be red in order to benefit from their lycopene; in a recent publication of the worlds healthiest food blog it was suggested that lycopene in both orange and tangerine colored tomatoes may be actually more easily absorbed than red tomatoes. The article stated "Although more research is needed in this area we are encouraged to find that tomatoes do not need to be red in order to benefit from their lycopene".
Despite the inconclusive nature of the UK study, results nonetheless are encouraging. Hence it would be prudent for all men to increase the amount of tomato and tomato based products consumed in their daily diets.