Men who eat a diet rich in tomatoes can lower their risk of developing prostate cancer by almost a fifth, according to new research.
To make their findings, a team of scientists compared the lifestyles and diets of 1,806 men aged between 50 and 69 who had prostate cancer and 12,005 cancer-free men.
The study to be published in the 'Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention' is the first of its kind to develop a prostate cancer ‘dietary index’ which consists of dietary components – selenium, calcium and foods rich in lycopene – that have been linked to prostate cancer.
Researchers at the Universities of Bristol, Cambridge and Oxford found that men who ate an optimal amount of these had a lower risk of prostate cancer.
Men who ate an optimal amount of selenium, calcium and lycopene had a lower risk of developing prostate cancer.
Tomatoes and products containing the fruit were shown to be the most beneficial food for preventing the disease.
Men who ate over 10 portions of tomato-rich foods a week, including tomato juice and baked beans, benefited from an 18 per cent reduction in developing prostate cancer.
This is thought to be due to lycopene, an antioxidant which fights off toxins that can cause DNA and cell damage.
Vanessa Er, from the School of Social and Community Medicine at the University of Bristol and Bristol Nutrition BRU, led the research.
She said: “Our findings suggest that tomatoes may be important in prostate cancer prevention. However, further studies need to be conducted to confirm our findings, especially through human trials. Men should still eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, maintain a healthy weight and stay active.”
Researchers also studied correlations between recommendations on physical activity, diet, and body weight and the prevention of cancer published by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) and the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR).
They found that only recommendations related to a high intake of fruits, vegetables and fibre were linked with a reduced risk of prostate cancer.