When it comes to staying prostate-cancer free, there's nothing like a routine checkup at the doctor's office ... or, easier yet, some tomatoes.
It turns out that putting away 10 portions of the not-a-vegetable a week can lower your risk of developing prostate cancer by 18 percent, according to new research published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention.
For the study, researchers at the Universities of Bristol, Cambridge, and Oxford compared the diets of 1,806 men with prostate cancer with those of 12,005 cancer-free men. They found that while consuming more selenium, calcium, and lycopene were all linked to a reduced risk of prostate cancer, lycopene— an antioxidant that gives tomatoes their bright-red hue— came with the biggest benefits.
Good thing, too. About 15 percent of American guys will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point during their lives, according to the National Cancer Institute. And while it's the second most common cancer in men worldwide, rates are far higher in developed countries, which study researchers say may have to do with our lack of fresh eating.
Lycopene, however, is well known to destroy any oxygenated free radical that's stupid enough to cross its path. Lycopene is actually the most efficient oxygen quencher, putting away more than 10 times more oxygenated free radicals than even vitamin E, according to Cornell food science researcher Rui Hai Liu, M.D. Hence why it has been linked to a lower risk of certain types of cancer, especially those of the lungs and stomach, according to the American Cancer Society.
And while apricots, guava, watermelon, papaya, and pink grapefruit all have some lycopene to speak of, tomatoes are the most concentrated source of the good stuff.
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But before you tear, unhinged-jaw, into a tomato, consider heating things up first. The human body has a tough time extracting lycopene from raw tomatoes, according to Cornell research. So you'll score more lycopene if you opt for cooked or pureed tomatoes. Is it chili season yet?
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