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Eating This Fruit Will Reduce Your Prostate Cancer Risk
The tiny tomato has a variety of health benefits- but none as quite as encouraging as its role in preventing prostate cancer. Tomatoes contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that is linked with a reduction in prostate cancer cells. Find out more about the connection below.
According to a report by the American Institute for Cancer Research, lycopene, a food coloring agent that makes tomatoes red, is a powerful cancer-fighter and may help reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer specifically. The report found substantial evidence that lycopene is highly protective against prostate cancer risk. Numerous animal studies have shown that consuming tomato compounds have substantially decreased prostate cancer risk.
Although no one food offers a miracle cure against the development of prostate cancer, this coloring agent could offer large benefits to men who want to reduce their risk of developing prostate cancer and possibly even reverse cancer already in development.
Lycopene is from the carotenoid family and is a pigment that gives red fruits and vegetables their color. Lycopene is known for its antioxidant abilities, which fight free radicals in the body. Free radicals are damaging molecules that disrupt the growth of cells, which can lead to the development of cancer and other diseases. Lycopene can destroy free radicals and improve overall immunity.
Studies have shown that lycopene is effective at fighting off specific kinds of cancer. The three types of cancer that lycopene is most effective against occur in the prostate, stomach, and lungs. According to a 1999 study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, lycopene could also help prevent breast, cervix, oral cavity, colon, rectum, esophagus, and pancreas cancer.
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2000 found that lycopene is also effective at reducing LDL cholesterol levels and lowering blood pressure.
Researchers have found that the best absorption of lycopene occurs when tomatoes are cooked and eaten with fat. The study from 2000 on lycopene found that when tomato juice was heated and mixed with oil, lycopene levels in the blood increased more than when cold tomato juice was consumed.
Researchers have also found that other ingredients in tomatoes, including phytochemicals, maximize the benefits of lycopene. That is why most researchers do not recommend patients eat lycopene only in supplement form. Consuming a variety of tomato products in addition to supplementation with lycopene and other prostate-cancer fighting ingredients may provide the biggest protection against prostate cancer.
Numerous studies have been conducted both in vitro, animal, and human studies. Some studies have revealed conflicting reports, and some have found a greater benefit of lycopene than others, but most of the studies have come to the conclusion that lycopene is effective in preventing or delaying the onset of prostate cancer.
A study conducted by the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2003 looked at 32 men scheduled for a prostatectomy. For 3 weeks before the surgery, half of the men were given tomato sauce meals containing 30 mg of lycopene to consume daily. Compared with the control group, the men eating the tomato meals had significantly decreased serum PSA levels as well as increased apoptotic cell death in carcinomas and BPH tissue.
In 2007, a study conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found that populations with a higher consumption of lycopene in the diet were less likely to have prostate cancer. The study did not find any other associated benefits of lycopene, however.
In 2010, French researchers examined the possibility of supplementing with tomato paste as a treatment for prostate cancer. The researchers divided the study participants into two groups. One group ate lycopene-rich tomato paste and one group ate lycopene-free tomatoes. In a second stage, the men were either given a lycopene supplement or a placebo pill. The researchers found that lycopene levels increased after eating the lycopene tomatoes and the lycopene supplement. The men who ate the tomatoes had a significant p-regulation of IGFBP-3 and Bax:Bcl-2 ratio and down-regulation of cyclin-D1, p53, and Nrf-2 , which indicates that lycopene is able to inhibit the cell cycle progression or proliferation of cancer cells in the prostate.
A study published in 2014 in the “International Journal of Molecular Sciences” found that low prostatic lycopene levels are associated with prostate cancer. The study, conducted in Rome, examined 32 patients with a precancerous lesion known as prostatic high-grade intraepithelial neoplasia (HGPIN). The study participants consumed between 20 and 25 mg of lycopene daily for 6 months. 6 months later, the patients underwent a prostate biopsy and were further divided into 3 groups (prostatitis, HGPIN, or PCa). Of the participants with prostate cancer, 77 percent had a prostatic lycopene level below 1 mg. Only 16 percent of the HGPIN had low lycopene levels, and none of the participants in the prostatitis group had low lycopene levels.
However, this study did not find any reduction in prostate cancer development after supplementation with lycopene. This suggests that lycopene consumption should be ingested over time as part of a normal diet rather than used as a supplement to reverse prostate cancer.
Adding lycopene to your diet is about as simple as adding more tomatoes to your daily meals. Aim for one tomato-related product at least every one to two days. Remember, cooked tomatoes provide more lycopene, possibly because cooking a tomato makes them more concentrated so you actually eat more.
Add lycopene to your diet in the following ways:
Add tomatoes to a sandwich (try dried tomatoes as well as fresh)
Regularly eat dishes with a tomato sauce base.
Eat grapefruit, watermelon, or guava on a regular basis instead of oranges or apples.
Eat salsa with eggs, Mexican dishes, and as a snack.
Drink tomato juice instead of fruit juice.
Use ketchup or other tomato-based condiments
Eat more bruschetta for appetizers. Bruschetta is a great way to mix tomato with lycopene-activating fat.
Although some evidence is conflicting, most studies show that there is some benefit to eating a lycopene-rich diet. How much a person should eat is unknown, but the studies that seemed to find the most benefit of eating lycopene had study participants that consumed at least 20 mg of lycopene daily.
Most studies showed that consuming supplements of lycopene were not quite as effective as eating cooked tomato products. Lycopene alone cannot cure prostate cancer, but it can help prevent the development of prostate cancer and may help prevent the spread of prostate cancer once it appears. However, since most studies do not show a huge improvement in reduction in prostate cancer after taking lycopene alone, it is best consumed with other prostate cancer-fighting supplements in addition to a healthy diet and exercise plan.
You may find some of these other supplements help maximize the cancer-fighting power of lycopene.
Saw palmetto is the holy grail of natural prostate cancer treatments. Saw palmetto has been researched extensively as a treatment for benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH), which is an enlargement of the prostate that can lead to the development of cancer. This condition is caused by the increased production of DHT (a hormone manufactured from testosterone), which can lead to the development of a variety of unpleasant side effects, like frequent urination, hair loss, and impotence. In a study from 2004 conducted by the Academic Hospital Nijmegen in the Netherlands, it was found that saw palmetto extract was more effective in reducing BHP than conventional medical treatments.
Herbal treatments are surprisingly effective at reducing the risk of developing prostate cancer. Nettle works by preventing the spread and growth of prostatic cells and blocks access in the prostate to the to human sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), which can lead to the development of DHT and prostate enlargement. A study from 2000 conducted by the University of Münster found that nettle was about as effective as the BPH medication finasteride with fewer side effects.
Selenium is a trace mineral that has been linked to the slowed progression of tumor growth. Some studies have shown that serum levels of selenium are lower in individuals with prostate cancer. A study from 1998 conducted by the University of Arizona found that supplementing with selenium was able to reduce the secondary endpoint of prostate cancer by 63 percent over a period of 10 years.
Studies show that men who live in areas with diets traditionally high in soy products are less likely to develop prostate cancer. Researchers believe that isoflavones from soy prevents the excessive production of serum PSA and free testosterone, as well as possible prevention of BPH. A 2004 study published in “Prostate” found that men who supplemented with soy isoflavones had no change or a decrease in serum PSA levels that could lead to the development of prostate cancer in 69 percent of participants.
Pygeum is a natural bark that is commonly used as a treatment for BPH. A study from France in 1999 found that supplementing with 100 mg of pygeum extract daily was able to reduce BPH symptoms by 46 percent within 12 months without side effects.
Most men do not want to consider the idea that they could develop prostate cancer at some point, but many men do. You can help reduce your risk for developing both prostate cancer and BPH by including lycopene in your daily diet. Adding the other supplements that work in conjunction with lycopene will provide a protective base that will prevent the development of prostate cancer and may even be able to stop the spread of existing prostate cancer. Eating more tomatoes is a simple way to protect your health for the rest of your life.
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