A tomato-rich diet helps protect against prostate cancer

Men who eat over 10 portions of tomatoes a week  have an 18% lower risk of developing prostate cancer, new research suggests.

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men worldwide. Rates of prostate cancer are higher in developed countries, which some experts believe is linked to a Westernised diet and lifestyle.

Researchers at the Universities of Bristol, Cambridge and Oxford, looked at the diets and lifestyles of 1 806 men aged between 50 and 69 with prostate cancer and compared with over 12 000 cancer-free men.

The study developed a prostate cancer ‘dietary index’ which consisted of dietary components such as selenium, calcium and foods rich in lycopene. Men who had optimal intake of these three dietary components had a lower risk of prostate cancer.

According to researchers, tomatoes and its products, such as tomato juice and baked beans were shown to be most beneficial, with an 18% reduction in risk found in men eating over 10 portions a week.

This is thought to be due to lycopene, an antioxidant which fights off toxins that can cause DNA and cell damage. Vanessa Er, from the School of Social and Community Medicine at the University of Bristol and Bristol Nutrition BRU, led the research.

She explained: “Our findings suggest that tomatoes may be important in prostate cancer prevention. However, further studies need to be conducted to confirm our findings, especially through human trials. Men should still eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, maintain a healthy weight and stay active.”

Researchers involved in the study concluded by saying additional dietary recommendations should be developed.