Life Extension Update
Broccoli-tomato combo reduces prostate tumors
A report published the January 15, 2007 issue of the journal Cancer Research concluded that a diet enhanced with tomato and broccoli powder was better than one containing either nutrient alone at shrinking prostate tumors in rats.
Food science and human nutrition professor John Erdman and colleagues at the University of Illinois and Ohio State University conducted the current research on rats with implanted prostate cancer tumors. The animals were divided to receive diets containing 10 percent broccoli powder, 10 percent tomato powder, or both. Other rats received lycopene (the red pigment in tomatoes and other red fruits) or finasteride (a drug used to treat prostate enlargement), or were surgically castrated.
After 22 weeks of treatment, rats who received the combination of broccoli and tomato powder experienced greater shrinkage of their tumors as determined by tumor weight than animals in any other group. Biopsies confirmed the reduction in proliferation in this group compared to the others, with the exception of the castrated rats whose tumor shrinkage approached that of the broccoli-tomato group.
"As nutritionists, it was very exciting to compare this drastic surgery to diet and see that tumor reduction was similar,” stated research team member and report coauthor Kirstie Canene-Adams. “Older men with slow-growing prostate cancer who have chosen watchful waiting over chemotherapy and radiation should seriously consider altering their diets to include more tomatoes and broccoli."
"When tomatoes and broccoli are eaten together, we see an additive effect, Dr Erdman explained. “We think it's because different bioactive compounds in each food work on different anticancer pathways."
"To get these effects, men should consume daily 1.4 cups of raw broccoli and 2.5 cups of fresh tomato, or 1 cup of tomato sauce, or ½ cup of tomato paste,” Canene-Adams suggested.
Other research conducted at the University of Illinois by Dr Erdman’s colleague Elizabeth Jeffrey discovered that sulfur compounds in broccoli enhance enzymes in the body that degrade cancer-causing substances. "For ten years, I've been learning how the phytochemicals in tomatoes affect the progression of prostate cancer,” Dr Erdman stated. “Meanwhile Dr Jeffery has been investigating the ways in which the healthful effects of broccoli are produced. Teaming up to see how these vegetables worked together just made sense and certainly contributes to our knowledge about dietary treatments for prostate cancer."
Lycopene consumption has been found to decrease not only the risk of prostate cancer (PC) in multiple studies, but also the risk of breast, pancreatic and stomach cancer, as well as lung cancer.
In these positive studies that correlated lycopene consumption with decreased risk of PC, the lycopene sources were tomato-based products. The richest sources of lycopene in the U.S. diet are ketchup, tomato juice, and pizza sauce; these account for over 80% of the total lycopene intake of Americans. In one study from Athens, Greece, the authors concluded that the incidence of prostate cancer in Greece could be reduced by about 40% if the population increased the consumption of tomatoes, reduced the intake of dairy products, and substituted olive oil for other added lipids.
The correlation between increased tomato-based consumption of lycopenes and the decreased risk of PC and other cancers is also found in the laboratory, where serum levels of lycopene are correlated with lycopene intake. The same holds true in studies in which tissue levels of lycopene have been studied in prostate pathology specimens.
Lycopene functions as a very potent antioxidant. In this regard, lycopene can trap singlet oxygen and reduce mutagenesis (gene mutations) in the Ames test. Other mechanisms of lycopene action may be operative as well.
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