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The antioxidant lycopene, often mentioned as one of the health benefits of tomatoes, is now being considered as a possible tool to help prevent prostate cancer, particularly in African-Americans.
The research conducted at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) found that eating tomatoes as a part of a daily diet may also aid in the prevention of lung and stomach cancer, but the most significant benefit was seen in using lycopene to reduce the risk of prostate cancer. The trial involved men between the ages of 50 and 85 who reported having abnormalities in their prostate. They were given capsules containing lycopene, and then tested 21 days later to see if the antioxidant level in their blood had risen.
The results showed that the men who took the lycopene had significantly higher levels of antioxidants in their blood, which could potentially reduce their chance of developing prostate cancer.
"We're not setting out to treat cancer, but to prevent it, and we're hoping to do so with lycopene," said lead researcher Richard van Breemen, UIC professor of medicinal chemistry.
The National Cancer Institute states that there are more than 240,000 new cases of prostate cancer in the U.S. each year, while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that it is the second most common cause of death from cancer among white, African-American, American Indian/Alaska Native and Hispanic men.