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Increased intakes of lycopene may help to prevent prostate cancer

September 10, 2014

New UK research suggests that men who eat over 10 portions a week of lycopene-rich tomatoes have an 18% lower risk of developing prostate cancer.

To assess if following dietary and lifestyle recommendations reduces the risk of developing prostate cancer, the observational study analyzed the diets and lifestyle of 1,806 men aged between 50 and 69 with prostate cancer and compared with 12,005 cancer-free men (1). The study results showed that men who had increased intakes of foods rich in lycopene, calcium and selenium had a lower risk of prostate cancer. Tomatoes and its products – such as tomato juice and baked beans – were shown to be most beneficial, with an 18% reduction in risk found in men eating over 10 portions a week. Overall, high intakes of fruits, vegetables and dietary fiber were found to be associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer.

The researchers commented that the cancer preventive effect of consuming tomatoes is thought to be due to lycopene, an antioxidant which fights off toxins that can cause DNA and cell damage. Men should still eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, maintain a healthy weight and stay active, the scientists recommended. Further studies need to be conducted to confirm the findings, especially through clinical trials.

With 35,000 new cases every year in the UK, and around 10,000 deaths, prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men worldwide. Rates are higher in developed countries, which some experts believe is linked to a Westernized diet and lifestyle.

References

  1. Er V. et al. Adherence to dietary and lifestyle recommendations and prostate cancer risk in the Prostate Testing for Cancer and Treatment (ProtecT) trial. Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention. Published online August 2014.