Diet and Nutrition: The Effect of Tomatoes on Prostate Cancer

Categories: Winter 2020

Eating a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables has many benefits on overall health, and some research has shown that men who eat well have lower risks of developing diseases such as cancer. Research continues to explore if—and how—eating certain foods, such as tomatoes, can reduce the chances of developing prostate cancer.

TomatoesLycopene, an antioxidant

Tomatoes contain lycopene, a natural antioxidant that protects against cell damage. Damaged cells that mutate and multiply turn into tumors. Lycopene is also anti-inflammatory. These two characteristics of lycopene led researchers to hypothesize that eating tomatoes could protect against prostate cancer.

For example, a recent study of nearly 28,000 men found that eating canned and cooked tomatoes five or more times a week was associated with a 28% lower risk of developing prostate cancer, when compared to men who never ate tomatoes. Cooked tomatoes, such as in tomato paste, sauce, or canned tomatoes, contain a form of lycopene that is easier for the body to use.

However, this study was observational. While previous observational research has found similar results, studies like this look for correlations, not a cause-and-effect relationship.

Lycopene’s effect on PSA

Another study looked at the effect of eating tomatoes on PSA levels in prostate cancer patients.

In this study, 79 men were randomly assigned to one of three groups. The first group ate tomato products every day. The second group ate tomato products and other antioxidant foods every day. The third group continued their normal diet.

After three weeks, the researchers compared the men’s PSA levels. Overall, the PSA values appeared to be the same among the three groups. However, when looking specifically at men with intermediate-risk prostate cancer, men who ate tomato products every day had significant decreases in their PSAs when compared to the men in the control group.

Also, lycopene levels seemed to have a beneficial impact on PSA levels. Patients who had the most lycopene in their bodies had a 1% decrease in their PSAs, while men with the lowest levels of lycopene had an 8.5% increase in their PSAs.

For more information search on the website for “lycopene.”

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