Does Tomato Help Prevent Cancer?

Published research from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard School of Public Health have shown that eating tomatoes and tomato products may help men reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Lycopene, a compound found in tomatoes, is widely touted as a protector against cancer, particularly prostate cancer.

The benefit of tomatoes in curbing prostate cancer and several other cancers have been reported by several researchers prior to the publication of the Harvard study. For example, both the Health Professional Follow-up Study and the Physicians’ Health Study from Harvard University had shown that tomato consumption might cut significantly the risk of prostate cancer.

Tomatoes are one of the best sources for lycopine. Lycopine is an anti-oxidant that protects our body cells from oxidants that have been linked to cancer. Laboratory tests have shown that lycopene is twice as powerful as beta-carotene at neutralizing free radicals.

Researchers believe the protection comes from a complex interaction achieved only when the whole tomato is eaten. Rats fed on tomato powder fared better than their counterparts who were given pure lycopene, and developed fewer cancers, one study found.

The tomato industry is releasing research, sponsored partly by Campbell Soup Co., saying that men interested in lowering their risk of prostate and other cancers should consider eating at least five servings of tomato-based products a week. The campaign was announced over the weekend at the fourth annual World Congress on the Processing Tomato in Sacramento. Research was presented by the Center for Human Nutrition at UCLA.

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