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Aug 29, 2014

Tomatoes 'important in prostate cancer prevention'

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Tomatoes are rich in the anti-oxidant lycopene.

Eating tomatoes may lower the risk of prostate cancer, research suggests.

Men who consume more than 10 portions of tomatoes each week reduce their risk by about 20%, according to a UK study.

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men worldwide, with 35,000 new cases and around 10,000 deaths in the UK every year.

Cancer experts recommend eating a range of fruit and vegetables to lower the risk of developing the disease.

Men should still eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, maintain a healthy weight and stay active”

The Bristol team analysed the diets and lifestyles of around 20,000 British men aged between 50 and 69.

They found men who consumed more than 10 portions of tomatoes each week - such as fresh tomatoes, tomato juice and baked beans - saw an 18% reduction in prostate cancer risk.

Eating the recommended five servings of fruit or vegetables or more a day was also found to decrease risk by 24%, compared with men who ate two-and-a-half servings or less.

"Our findings suggest that tomatoes may be important in prostate cancer prevention," said Vanessa Er, from the School of Social and Community Medicine at Bristol University.

"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."

Dietary index 

The cancer-fighting properties of tomatoes are thought to be due to lycopene, an antioxidant which can protect against DNA and cell damage.

The researchers also looked at two other dietary components linked with prostate cancer risk - selenium, found in flour-based foods such as bread and pasta, and calcium, found in dairy products such as milk and cheese.

Experts advise eating a wide range of fruit and vegetables

Men who had optimal intake of these three dietary components had a lower risk of prostate cancer.