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Feature: Lycopene in tomatoes and prostate cancer risk

Butuan City (20 November) -- One of the most popular home garden vegetables is the tomato. Nowadays, the tomato is an almost daily part of the Filipino family diet. We love adding it on pizza, burgers, soups, pastas, and salads. We even make juice out of it.

The tomato is, of course, eaten raw or in innumerable cooked dishes. It is delicious when eaten raw as like in manggang hilaw (unripe mangga) with onions and bagoong (shrimp paste) or with itlog na maalat (salted egg). It can be sautéed, grilled, stewedand added to many food preparations. You can even make a raw tomato into sauce, puree, catsup, relish, and juice.

The tomato is easy to grow. When grown as a stalked plant, it requires a relatively small amount of space, yet is capable of producing a lot of fruits per plant.

It is a fact that the tomato is high in nutrients. It is packed with vitamin C, potassium, fiber and vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A.

The tomato is a rich source of lycopene, a carotenoid that is a powerful antioxidant. Lycopene has been the subject of many current promising researches on plant chemicals that promote health. It is a carotenoid responsible for the red color in tomatoes and other fruits like watermelon and grape fruit. Carotenoids, along with phenolic acids and flavonoids, are all phythochemicals, the nutritionally beneficial active compounds found in fruits and vegetables. Polyphenols, one of the potentially beneficial anti-cancer compounds, is also found in tomato products, predominantly in the skin and seeds.

A variety of epidemiological studies by Giovannucci in 2002; Mill in 1989 and Wu in 2004 have suggested that dietary factors may decrease the risk of prostate cancer.

Increased consumption of tomatoes, carotenoids, Vitamin C, selenium, cruciferous vegetables, polyphenols, soy, fish, green tea or vitamin D may all D may all be linked to a decreased risk of prostate cancer. Their studies further show that an increased consumption of fruits and vegetables significantly reduces the incidence of prostate cancer.

Lycopene and tomato products appear to reduce the risk of prostate cancer in epidemiological studies. A study led by Giovannucci in 1995 showed that lycopene and tomato productintakes were associated with a decreased risk of prostatecancer. One study led by Gann in 1999 suggested a strong inverse association between aggressiveness of the cancer and plasma lycopene. Another study led by Wu in 2004 showed an inverse association between plasma lycopene concentrations and risk of prostate cancer although only in older men without a history of the disease.

The results of these epidemiological studies support a hypothesis that tomato products and lycopene consumption reduce the risk of prostate cancer and supportsfurther testing of this relationship with animal and human trials.

With all the health of eating tomatoes, make it a habit to include your daily meals tomatoes as appetizer or an ingredient in the dishes. Based on the food and Nutrition Research Institute's Food Composition Table (FNRI-DOST), half a cup of fresh tomato weighing 40g as appetizer for lunch and dinner, assures you of 10.8 kilocalories for energy, 0.36 grams of protein, 0.12 grams of fat, 12.4 milligrams of calcium, 10.4 milligrams of phosphorus, 0.4 milligrams of iron, 152 micrograms of beta carotene, 0.02 milligrams of thiamin, 0.012 milligrams of riboflavin, 0.24 milligrams of niacin, and 13.6 milligrams of vitamin C. (Ma. Idelia G. Glorioso, FNRI-DOST/PIA-Caraga) [top]

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