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A tomato (or two) a day may well keep the oncologist at bay

Researchers at Bristol University have published the findings of a study programme that compared the lifestyles of nearly 20,000 British men, aged between 50 and 69.

They found that, as a group, men who included ten or more portions of tomatoes, in any form, in their weekly diet showed an 18% reduction in the incidence of prostate cancer when compared to the overall average.

Specifically, the team analysed the lifestyles of 1,806 prostate cancer sufferers with 12,005 cancer-free men in the same age group.

Their analysis revealed clear differences in eating habits and suggested that those with an optimum intake of nutrients such as lycopene, for which tomatoes are a rich source, were able to stay healthy for longer.

Lycopene is thought to boost the body's ability to tackle harmful toxins that attack cells and cause them to mutate into cancers.

The full results were published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention (2014) under the title Adherence to dietary and lifestyle recommendations and prostate cancer risk in the Prostate Testing for Cancer and Treatment (ProtecT) trial by Er V, Lane J, Martin R et al.

While welcoming the results and suggesting further study in this area is definitely needed, generally the scientific community remains cautious about drawing any definitive links between nutrition and cancer prevention or treatment.

One reason for such caution is that healthy people tend to live generally healthy llifestyles which might mean a combination of any number of factors is necessary to significantly reduce cancer risks.

So it will almost definitely not be a simple matter of eating more baked beans or having an extra tomato topping on your pizzas, more's the pity.

Clearly, however, a well-balanced nutritious diet is going to be the biggest contributor to continued healthy living.

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