Vegan Health ArticlesEnlarged Prostate and Tomato Sauce
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From Michael Greger, M.D.

Last year, a Harvard study of 47,000 men found that those who ate ten servings a week of tomato products cut their risk of developing aggressive prostate cancer in half. Researchers suspect this may be due to the pigment that makes tomatoes red, lycopene. We now know that lycopene is the most powerful carotene discovered so far, with fully ten times more antioxidant power than beta carotene.

We've known that in the lab even just purified lycopene slows the growth of human prostate cancer cells, but what researchers didn't know is whether lycopene had any effect on noncancerous prostate cells. In an article published last month, California researchers set out to answer just that question, and indeed lycopene inhibited the growth of normal human prostate cells as much as 82%.[2]

This is good news for those trying to prevent or treat an enlargement of the prostate (also called BPH, or Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy), a condition that affects the majority of elderly men in this country. This research shows for the first time that not only may tomato sauce prevent prostate cells from turning cancerous, it may prevent prostate gland enlargement as well.

Lycopene is one of those phytonutrients which is actually absorbed better from cooked foods, so you get more from tomato sauce than raw tomatoes. And eating tomato products with a bit of oil may also increase the absorption of this fat soluble molecule. Why not just go out and buy lycopene pills? That's actually the latest marketing scam from Centrum. Their latest multivitamin formulation boasts "Now with lycopene!" If you look on the label, though, indeed you'll see if has 300 mcg of lycopene. Yeah, but a single tomato has more like 5000! Pass the vegan pizza :)


[2] Journal of Nutrition 133(2003):3356.

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We began this archive as a means of assisting our visitors in answering many of their health and diet questions, and in encouraging them to take a pro-active part in their own health. We believe the articles and information contained herein are true, but are not presenting them as advice. We, personally, have found that a whole food vegan diet has helped our own health, and simply wish to share with others the things we have found. Each of us must make our own decisions, for it's our own body. If you have a health problem, see your own physician.