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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Environmental Health Note/Eat the Whole Tomato

Air Date: Week of

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Living on Earth's Diane Toomey reports on a new study that shows a supplement used to prevent prostate cancer may not be effective. But these researchers did find that the food it comes from, the tomato, may be beneficial.


CURWOOD: Just ahead: how humans came to understand that we are changing the planet’s climate. First, this Environmental Health Note from Diane Toomey.


TOOMEY: Recent studies show that increased consumption of tomato products reduces the risk of prostate cancer. Some think that lycopene, an antioxidant in tomatoes, is responsible for this effect. Many American men take lycopene supplements to prevent or inhibit the growth of prostate cancer. But a recent study shows that simply taking a pill might not the answer.

Researchers at Ohio State University fed different diets to rats that had been treated to development prostate cancer. One group received tomato powder in their food. Another group got lycopene supplements, and a third was fed a diet without supplementation. Researchers found that the tomato-fed rats experienced a significant delay in the development of their cancer. Overall, their risk of dying with prostate cancer over the 14 month study period was reduced by 26 percent. But there was no benefit for the group that received lycopene.

Researchers think there must be other components in tomato that inhibit cancer growth or that lycopene needs to act in concert with them. Researchers also divided the rats into two subgroups – with one put on a low calorie diet. Regardless of what was in the diet, the low calorie group had a reduced cancer risk - giving further weight to studies that show exercise and lower body mass may protect against prostate cancer. That’s this week’s Health Note. I’m Diane Toomey.

CURWOOD: And you're listening to Living on Earth.


[MUSIC: Radiohead “Treefingers” KID A (EMI Records-2000)]



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