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Tomatoes May Help Fight Prostate Cancer

Aug 27, 2014 02:43 PM EDT

Tomatoes may help fight prostate cancer, new research suggests. According to the study, men who eat over 10 portions a week of tomatoes have an 18 percent lower risk of developing prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men worldwide, with about 233,000 new cases every year in the United States, and around 29,000 deaths, reports the American Cancer Society. One man in every seven will get prostate cancer in his lifetime, usually after the age of 40.

Researchers at the Universities of Bristol, Cambridge and Oxford wanted to know if lifestyle, like changes to diet, could help reduce the risk of this deadly cancer. They studied the diets and lifestyle of 1,806 men aged between 50 and 69 with prostate cancer and compared with 12,005 cancer-free men.

The research team turned to tomatoes because it's rich in lycopene, which has been linked to lowered risk of prostate cancer, along with selenium and calcium. Men who had optimal intake of these three dietary components had a lower risk of prostate cancer.

Lycopene is an antioxidant which fights off toxins that can cause DNA and cell damage, according to researchers.

It turns out that tomatoes and its products - such as tomato juice and baked beans - were shown to be most beneficial, with an 18 percent reduction in risk found in men eating over 10 portions a week.

"Our findings suggest that tomatoes may be important in prostate cancer prevention," Vanessa Er, from the School of Social and Community Medicine at the University of Bristol and Bristol Nutrition BRU, who led the research, said in a press release.

Though, the authors note that their findings are preliminary and do not yet establish a cause-and-effect relationship.

"However, further studies need to be conducted to confirm our findings, especially through human trials," Er added. "Men should still eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, maintain a healthy weight and stay active."

The research is described in the journal Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention.

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