A UK study has shown that males who eat more than 10 portions of tomatoes per week could reduce their risk of prostate cancer by around 18%.
Prostate cancer is known to be the second most common cancer in men globally, with about 41700 new cases and approximately 10700 deaths in the UK annually. It is suspected that this may be linked to the Western diet as the disease is less common in developing countries.
The recommendations from cancer experts is to maintain a balanced diet high in vegetables and fruit, and low in fat, salt, red and processed meat.
In this first study in this field, researchers based at the Universities of Bristol, Oxford and Cambridge assessed the lifestyles and diets of almost 14000 males aged between 50 and 69. They discovered that those who consumed at least 10 portions of tomatoes each week were 18% less likely to develop prostate cancer than those who ate very few or none.
A single portion was determined as 150g of tomatoes, a portion of pizza with tomato puree, a glass of tomato juice, tomato-based pasta sauce or half a tin of baked beans. Men have been urged not to overindulge in pasta sauce, pizza and baked beans, due to its high salt content.
It was also found that males who consumed more fruit and vegetables were at a reduced risk. The risk variance between those who consumed five or more potions of fruit and vegetables, compared to those who ate less was 24%.
Vanessa Er, the research leader from the University of Bristol urged men to place reliance on whole foods instead of supplements, remain active and maintain an ideal weight.
Experts have stated that there is insufficient evidence to conclude that tomatoes could protect males against prostate cancer.
According to Prostate Cancer UK’s Dr Iain Frame, this type of study is extremely difficult to interpret and the results should be viewed with caution. He said it is very difficult to separate the effects of different foods and there is not sufficient evidence to make absolute recommendations on the types of foods men should consume to reduce their risk of prostate cancer.
He added that increasing awareness of the known risk factors, such as black ethnicity, family history of the disease and age, is vital if the death rate is to be reduced.
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