The nutrient, lycopene, which is found in cooked tomatoes, can slow the growth and even kill the prostate cancer cells, according to researchers at the University of Portsmouth.
Lycopene gives tomatoes their red color. All red vegetables contain lycopene, but tomatoes which have been processed contain a more potent version of the chemical.
Laboratory tests by the research team revealed that lycopene intercepts the cancer cell's ability to make the connections it needs to attach to a healthy blood supply.
Lead author of the study Dr. Mridula Chopra said, "I stress that our tests were done in test tubes in a
laboratory and more testing needs to be carried out to confirm our
findings, but the laboratory evidence we have found is clear - it is
possible to intercept the simple mechanism some cancer cells use to grow at concentrations that can be achieved by eating sufficient cooked tomatoes. The type of tomatoes which offer the most effective lycopene also differs and more tests need to be done to find the best breed of tomato for this purpose. Individuals will vary in how much lycopene their bodies make available to fight cancer cell growth, and the ability of lycopene to 'intercept' in this way in the body is likely to vary between tomato products."
The research is published in the 'British Journal of Nutrition'.