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Ketchup cuts risk of cancer

KETCHUP, tomato soup and tomato puree may help cut the risk of cancer and heart disease, doctors heard yesterday.

Research has shown that lycopene - a natural pigment that gives tomatoes their red colour and is found in high concentrations in processed products such as ketchup and pizza - is good for your health.

Medical experts from Britain and the US met at the Royal Society of Medicine in London yesterday for a one-day seminar to review two major studies which suggest that a lycopene-rich diet can reduce the risk of heart disease and prostate cancer.

A six-year study of 48,000 male health professionals, conducted by Harvard Medical School in 1995, found that consuming tomato products more than twice a week, as opposed to never, was associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer of up to 34 per cent.

Of the tomato-based products, the link was greatest for tomato sauce followed by canned tomatoes and pizza. Processed tomatoes contain much higher concentrations of lycopene than fresh tomatoes, with 2.5 times more lycopene absorbed into the body from tomato paste compared with fresh tomatoes.