Component in dried tomatoes may prevent prostate cancer

June 12, 2008

The form of tomato product one eats could be the key to unlocking its prostate cancer-fighting potential, researchers from the University of Missouri, Columbia, recently reported in Cancer Research (2008; 68:4384-91).

The form of tomato product one eats could be the key to unlocking its prostate cancer-fighting potential, researchers from the University of Missouri, Columbia, recently reported in Cancer Research (2008; 68:4384-91).

“Processing of many edible plants through heating, grinding, mixing, or drying dramatically increases their nutrition value, including their cancer prevention potential,” said lead study author Valeri V. Mossine, PhD. “It appears that the greatest protective effect from tomatoes comes by rehydrating tomato powder into tomato paste.”

Dr. Mossine and colleagues demonstrated that FruHis, an organic carbohydrate present in dehydrated tomato products, exerts a strong protective effect. The researchers divided rats into groups of 20 and fed them a control diet or a diet that included tomato paste, tomato powder, or tomato paste plus additional FruHis. All animals were then injected with prostate cancer-causing chemicals.

Animals fed the tomato paste plus FruHis diet had the longest survival from cancer at 51 weeks compared with 50 weeks in the tomato powder group, 45 weeks in the tomato paste alone group, and 40 weeks in the control group.

On post-mortem exam, prostate tumors were found in 10% of the rats that had been given a combination of tomato paste and FruHis, compared with 30% of animals in the tomato powder group, 25% in the tomato paste alone group, and 60% in the control group.

“Before this study, researchers attributed the protective effect of tomatoes to ascorbic acid, carotenoids, or phenolic compounds,” Dr. Mossine said. “FruHis may represent a novel type of potential dietary antioxidant. Experiments like these suggest that a combination of FruHis and lycopene should be investigated as a potential therapeutic anti-tumor agent, not just a prevention strategy.”