Fighting cancer, tomato is more than lycopene

November 05, 2003|By Roni Rabin | Roni Rabin,NEWSDAY

To reduce the risk of prostate cancer, it might take the whole tomato.

New research on rats suggests that eating whole tomatoes can reduce prostate cancer deaths more effectively than taking supplements of lycopene, a chemical in tomatoes that has been associated with lower prostate cancer risk.

Earlier studies in humans found a link between high lycopene blood levels and a lower risk of prostate cancer, but it was not clear whether lycopene was the effective agent or whether it simply signified tomato consumption.

The new research suggests lycopene acts in concert with other nutrients in the tomato, creating a synergistic effect, according to study author John W. Erdman, a professor of food science at the University of Illinois. Lycopene is a carotenoid, a type of antioxidant that plays a role in disease resistance.

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