The American cancer society estimates that approximately 180,000 men will be
diagnosed with prostate cancer this year; researchers, however, have found that
one of the nutrients present in tomatoes appears to slow the progression and
reduce the risk of prostate cancer. The nutrient is called lycopene, and it is
found in certain fruits and vegetables. Lycopene functions as an
antioxidant, and also appears to encourage the body to break down and
destroy cancer cells. It is responsible for the bright colors of many fruits and
vegetables; it is what makes tomatoes red.
More research is needed to determine the extent that lycopene supplements may
be useful in fighting prostate cancer. Regardless, men are encouraged to add
more tomatoes and tomato-based foods to their diet, such as spaghetti sauce and
some tomato-based soups. Other sources that provide lycopenes are grapefruit,
watermelon, and sunrise or "red" papayas.
If you have concerns about prostate cancer, talk with your doctor. Experts
don't know exactly what causes it, but several risk factors have been
Age: the risk for prostate cancer increases after age 50;
Race: prostate cancer is about twice as common among African-American
men than among Caucasians;
Diet and exercise habits: men who eat a lot of fatty foods are more at
risk, as are those who don't get regular exercise and are overweight;
Genes: prostate cancer does seem to run in families, with men who have
a father or brother with the disease having double-the-risk.
Whatever your age, nationality, or genetic make-up, go on, grab a V-8 or an
extra slice of pizza (that's one extra slice, not 10).
Antioxidant: substances that help prevent damage to DNA and may
therefore lower cancer risk.
The American Cancer Society's Book on Prostate Cancer by David G.
Bostwick, M.D., Gregory T. MacLennon, M.D., and Thayne R. Larson, M.D. (Villard
American Cancer Society Web site.
"Prostate Cancer: Prevention and Risk Factors." The Prostate Cancer Resource
Center. Available at: http//www3.cancer.org.
Gann PH, Ma J, Giovannucci E, Willett W, et al. Lower prostate cancer risk in
men with elevated plasma lycopene levels: results of a prospective analysis.
Cancer Res 1999; 59(6):1225-1230.
Kucuk O, Sakr W, Sarkar FH, et al. Lycopene supplementation in men with
localized prostate cancer (Pca) modulates grade and volume of prostatic
intraepithelial neoplasia (PIN) and tumor, level of serum PSA and biomarkers of
cell growth, differentiation, and apoptosis. Presented at the American
Association for Cancer Research Conference; April 13, 1999;
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