New research suggests that lycopene -- a carotenoid in tomatoes that has been linked to a lowered risk of prostate cancer -- does not act alone. Scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Ohio State University say that lycopene’s punch is stronger in combination with other phytochemicals in the fruit.
Lycopene is an antioxidant and the pigment that provides the red color of tomatoes. Because of recent epidemiological studies suggestive of lycopene’s role against prostate cancer, the compound has made its way into dietary supplements. These new findings, based on a comprehensive prostate-cancer survival study done on rats, indicate that a combination of the bioactive compounds may offer the best anti-cancer effect.
"It has been unclear whether lycopene itself is protective. This study suggests that lycopene is one factor involved in reducing the risk of prostate cancer," said John Erdman Jr., a professor of food science and human nutrition and of internal medicine at Illinois. "This also suggests that taking lycopene as a dietary supplement is not as effective as eating whole tomatoes. We believe people should consume whole tomato products -- in pastas, in salads, in tomato juice and even on pizza."
Jim Barlow | EurekAlert!
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