Annette from Woodville Park, South Australia, Australia asked:

Does eating large amounts of tomato sauce reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer?

Does eating large amounts of tomato sauce reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer?

I read online that American researchers are urging men to eat more tomato-based products to prevent prostate cancer. Is this true? Does it prevent other cancers as well?

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Our answer

Tomatoes contain high levels of an antioxidant called lycopene. Lycopene is the red-orange pigment that gives tomatoes and other fruits and vegetables their colour. Lycopene and other antioxidants may help prevent cancer by protecting cells from damage caused by free radicals. There have been several studies looking at whether lycopene protects against prostate cancer, and the results are promising. However, there is still not enough evidence from well-designed studies to recommend people eat large quantities of tomato products to prevent prostate cancer, and no evidence that suggests that lycopene protects against other cancers. Despite this, tomatoes can be included in a balanced diet. To reduce your risk of other cancers – including cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, stomach and bowel – we recommend consuming two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables everyday, and including a variety of different fruit and vegetables.

This page was last updated on: July 10, 2014
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