Tomato sauce consumption decreases DNA damage in prostate cancer patients

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Men with prostate cancer given a short-term tomato sauce-based diet had reduced levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA), and significantly lower prostatic tissue oxidative DNA damage, according to a report in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute for December 19.

Dr. Phyllis E. Bowen from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and colleagues note that "the risk of prostate cancer is lower in men reporting higher consumption of tomato products," which prompted the researchers to investigate the effect of tomato intake in men already diagnosed with prostate cancer.

They placed 32 men with localized prostate adenocarcinoma, who were to undergo radical prostatectomy, on a 3 week diet of pasta with tomato sauce that included a mean of 26.8 mg of lycopene per day. The researchers measured PSA levels before and after the diet and assessed oxidative DNA damage in resected prostate samples.

The diet significantly increased both serum (1.97-fold) and prostate lycopene concentrations (2.92-fold, p < 0.001 for both), and was associated with a 21.3% reduction in leukocyte oxidative DNA damage (p = 0.005). Serum PSA levels also dropped 17.5% from a mean of 10.9 ng/mL before the diet to 8.7 ng/mL after the diet, Dr. Bowen's team reports.

Also, oxidative DNA damage in prostate tissue removed at operation was 28.3% less than in tissue samples from seven randomly selected prostate cancer patients, the researchers found.

Dr. Bowen and colleagues conclude that "these data indicate a possible role for a tomato sauce constituent, possible lycopene, in the treatment of prostate cancer and warrant further testing with a larger sample of patients, including a control group."

J Natl Cancer Inst 2001;93:1872-1879.

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