Can Tomatoes Tame Prostate Cancer?

Lycopene, a prominent nutrient in tomatoes, watermelon, and pink grapefruit (and the constituent that gives these foods their color), has made the news recently as an anticancer agent. Several studies have associated eating tomatoes and tomato products with reduced prostate cancer risk, even with as little as two to four servings of tomato sauce weekly. However, a recent, large-scale study differed, showing that a higher level of blood lycopene had no protective effect against prostate cancer. Because lycopene absorption varies, measuring food intake may not accurately reflect what actually enters the blood. Thus, studies with lycopene supplements, in which the exact amount and form of lycopene ingested is known, may be the only way to discern a true lycopene-specific effect. Before you pop lycopene supplements or start eating pasta with marinara sauce at every meal, look for additional and more-rigorous studies examining the effects of pure lycopene or lycopene-enriched tomato-extract supplements on prostate cancer prevention and treatment.

"Supplements" is written by nutrition and exercise biochemist Anthony Almada, MS. He has collaborated on more than 45 university-based studies, is cofounder of Experimental and Applied Sciences (EAS), and is founder and chief scientific officer of IMAGINutrition.