Will Tomato Sauce Help Protect Your Prostate?

Tomato sauce and other lycopene-rich foods may help protect men against lethal prostate cancer.

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Researchers followed nearly 50,000 male health professionals for 23 years. Those who consumed the most lycopene had a 28 percent lower risk of lethal prostate cancer than those who consumed the least.

What to do: It can’t hurt to eat more tomato sauce (unless it’s on pizza smothered with cheese and sausage). Just remember that it’s too early to know whether lycopene lowers the risk of lethal prostate cancer.

Other studies have found no link between lycopene and prostate cancer, possibly because lycopene may protect only against lethal cancers and not against the less harmful prostate cancers that many studies include.

What’s more, some studies may have seen no link because they measured lycopene intake only once (rather than every four years, as in this study) or because they didn’t consider whether the lycopene was easier to absorb (as it is in cooked tomatoes) or harder to absorb (as it is in raw tomatoes).

Still other studies may have seen no link because they were done in countries—Uruguay, for example—where lycopene intakes don’t vary much.

Source: J. Natl. Cancer Inst. 2014. doi:10.1093/jnci/djt430.

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