A product derived from tomato may be able to prevent prostate cancer, researchers at the University of Missouri have found.
The positive effect of tomato products has been suggested in many studies, but, until now, researchers did not know exactly what caused this effect.
"It appears that the greatest protective effect from tomatoes comes from rehydrating tomato powder into tomato paste," said Valeri Mossine, research assistant professor of biochemistry in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.
"Processing of many edible plants through heating, grinding, mixing or drying dramatically increases their nutritional value and cancer-fighting potential."
Mossine and his colleagues found that FruHis, an organic carbohydrate present in dehydrated tomato products, exerts a strong protective effect against prostate cancer.Rats, injected with prostate cancer-causing chemicals, were divided into groups and fed different diets. The group fed a diet of tomato paste plus additional FruHis demonstrated the longest survival rate. Only 10 percent in that group had developed prostate tumours.
Sixty percent in the control group had tumors; 30 percent of the group fed tomato powder had tumours; and 25 percent of the group fed tomato paste alone had prostate tumours.
"Before this study, researchers attributed the protective effect of tomatoes to ascorbic acid, carotenoids or phenolic compounds. FruHis may represent a novel type of potential dietary antioxidant," Mossine said.
"Our ongoing research now focuses on unraveling the mechanisms behind why this has a beneficial effect. This knowledge may lead to other avenues of research and drug development for prostate and other cancers. Results of this study certainly warrant clinical trials," he added.
The study will be published in the June issue of Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.