Could tomato sauce be effective in the war against prostate cancer? The findings of a new study say it very well may.
The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Illinois, found that prostate cells of men with prostate cancer, who consumed one daily pasta dish with tomato sauce for 3 weeks, had lower levels of DNA damage in prostate tissues and cells. The men also had reduced levels of prostate specific antigen (PSA), a protein in the blood that is measured to assess the risk of prostate cancer.
The study compared 32 prostate cancer patients, ages 60 to 74, to seven same-aged men, who did not eat the tomato-sauce based meals.
Credited for the good news is lycopene, an antioxidant found abundantly in tomato sauce. Multiple previously done studies correlate high intake of lycopene with a reduced risk of prostate cancer. Lycopene, it is believed, assists in reducing damage caused by free radicals, which are metabolic byproducts that age and disease human tissue.
But don't start selling "extra sauce" as a special pizza topping just yet.
The researchers believe more investigation is needed to confirm that lycopene, and not another tomato-based compound, is responsible for the damage reductions.
In the meantime U of I researcher Dr. Phyllis E. Bowen encourages men who like tomato products to eat more of them.
"Tomato sauces and beverages can count for one or two of vegetable servings for the day, which is consistent with our current dietary advice to eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day,' said Bowen, the study's senior author, in an interview with Reuters Health.
In another report published by HealthScout, a news and health Webzine, Bowen added that, "I think a lot of people overlook tomato sauce on their pizza or pasta as counting for a serving of vegetables."
The study, published in the Dec. 19 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, is funded in part by Hunt-Wesson, a manufacturer of multiple tomato products.