Tomato Products Associated With Lower Prostate Cancer Risk

Eating tomato products may reduce a man's risk of developing prostate cancer.

The benefits may be related to the antioxidant properties of lycopene, a carotenoid found in tomatoes. United States researchers suggest other potential mechanisms and other beneficial tomato-based components cannot be excluded, however.

"Because current evidence is not definitive, other lines of evidence are needed to provide confirmatory information," say investigators from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard University in Boston, Massachusetts. "A long-term, randomised trial with prostate cancer as the endpoint would be most informative, but short-term trials using endpoints such as prostate cancer recurrence or intermediate endpoints may be more feasible."

Researchers note that earlier research was inconclusive in indicating that frequent intake of tomato products or lycopene is associated with reduced prostate cancer risk. They evaluated additional data from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS). This study is an ongoing prospective cohort study of 51,529 US male dentists, optometrists, osteopaths, podiatrists, pharmacists, and veterinarians. HPFS participants were aged 40 to 75 years at baseline in 1986. They provided information on age, marital status, height and weight, ancestry, medications, smoking history, disease history, physical activity and diet at baseline.

Investigators tracked prostate cancer cases in 47,365 HPFS participants from 1986 through January 1998. These participants had completed dietary questionnaires in 1986, 1990 and 1994. A total of 2,481 participants developed prostate cancer between 1986 and January 1998.

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