Tomato-Rich Diets May Help Reduce The Risk Of Developing Prostate Cancer
Chuck Bednar for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
Men looking to reduce their risk of developing prostate cancer could benefit by consuming at least 10 servings of tomatoes per week, according to new research appearing in a recent edition of the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.
Doing so can decrease the risk of contracting the disease by 18 percent, Vanessa Er of the University of Bristol’s School of Social and Community Medicine and her colleagues claim in the UK National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)-funded study. The findings follow an in-depth analysis of the diets and lifestyles of 1,806 men between the ages of 50 and 69 with prostate cancer, as well as those of 12,005 cancer-free male patients.
According to BBC News online health editor Helen Briggs, not only did they find that men consuming a total of at least 10 portions of fresh tomatoes, tomato juice, baked beans and other similar products experienced the 18 percent reduction in prostate cancer risk, but they also discovered that eating five servings of fruits or vegetables per day decreased the risk by 24 percent versus men eating half that amount.
“Our findings suggest that tomatoes may be important in prostate cancer prevention,” Er, a Ph. D. student at the university, said in a statement. “However, further studies need to be conducted to confirm our findings, especially through human [clinical] trials. Men should still eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, maintain a healthy weight and stay active.”
Er, who also worked with scientists from the University of Cambridge and Oxford University, explained that the reason tomato products appeared to be the most beneficial in reducing prostate cancer risk was due to lycopene, an antioxidant which helps combat toxins that can cause DNA and cell damage. They note that this is the first study of its kind to develop an index of dietary components that have been linked to prostate cancer.
“Only the recommendation on plant foods – high intake of fruits, vegetables and dietary fiber – was found to be associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer,” the university explained. “As these recommendations are not targeted at prostate cancer prevention, researchers concluded that adhering to these recommendations is not sufficient and that additional dietary recommendations should be developed.”
In addition, Anna Hodgekiss of the Daily Mail reported that Er believes the best way to get lycopene – as well as other cancer-fighting dietary components such as selenium and calcium – is directly from food, not through supplements. In all, the study calls for men to make sure they ingest between 750mg and 1,200mg of calcium and between 105mcg to 200mcg of selenium daily.
Er and her colleagues are now calling for additional research to aid in the development of additional dietary recommendations to help prevent prostate cancer. She also told Hodgekiss that it was important to be cautious with the study because while they have found “a link,” their findings do not indicate “a proof of causation.”
Similarly, Tom Stansfeld of Cancer Research UK told Briggs that while “eating foods rich in lycopene – such as tomatoes – or selenium may be associated with a reduction in the risk of prostate cancer, this has not been proven, and this study can’t confirm whether there is a link between diet and prostate cancer risk. Diet and cancer prevention is a complex issue with few black and white answers; we encourage everyone to eat a balanced diet which is high in fruit and vegetables and low in red and processed meat, fat and salt.”