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2 foods could keep prostate cancer away: Are they on your menu?

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Soy and tomatoes could prevent prostate cancer.

Eating tomatoes has been touted as a way to prevent prostate cancer, though studies have shown mixed results. A new study shows prostate cancer risk might be lowered even more by consuming tomatoes and soy.

Study looks at power of combining foods for cancer prevention

University of Illinois researchers studied mice at high risk for aggressive forms of prostate cancer. They goal was to look at the bioactive compounds in tomatoes and soy individually and combined to see if the two foods could keep the cancer at bay.

The researchers note Asian men who consume one to two servings of soy daily have lower incidence of prostate cancer, which is the most common type of cancer that affects men.

The results showed the mice - expected to develop prostate cancer - had a lower incidence of the disease from being fed a diet containing tomato powder plus soy germ.

For the study, mice were given either 10 percent whole tomato powder, 2 percent soy germ, tomato powder plus soy germ or neither of the two as a control.

Just forty-five percent of the mice given soy and tomato developed prostate cancer, versus 61 percent in the group given tomato and 66 percent in the soy group. All of the mice not given tomato or soy developed prostate cancer.

Krystle Zuniga, co-author of the paper points out prostate cancer treatment is 100 percent successful when caught early. Older men often choose monitoring over radiation and other treatments with unwelcome side effects.

Whole foods better than supplements for prostate health

The combination of soy and tomato could help prevent the disease to a greater extent than eating either one alone.

The study authors recommend eating whole foods versus soy or lycopene supplements. Lycopene is the antioxidant in tomatoes thought to provide disease fighting properties.

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When whole foods are consumed, all of the bioactive compounds work in harmony to help fight cancer as well as other diseases. The current finding also supports consuming whole foods for optimal health rather than relying on supplements - some of which can lead to rather than prevent disease.

The soy product used in the study was high in daidzein and glycitein, and low in genistein. In support of eating the whole food, study author John Erdman, a U of I professor of food science and nutrition said the soy germ acts very differently than the soy bean.

Other ways to prevent prostate cancer include getting enough sleep, maintaining a normal weight, coping with stress,

How to get more soy in the diet

Ohio State researchers are working on a tomato, soy drink.

Okay, we know eating tofu might not be popular with some men. Until a tasty drink is developed, here are some other suggestions.

A painless way to add more soy to your diet is to add it to tomato sauce. The next time you’re cooking up your favorite pasta, add some cubed tofu. The soy will absorb the flavors in the sauce and give it an extra meaty texture.

You can also add soy nuts to the diet. If you don’t like eating them alone, make up a mix of your favorite unsalted almonds, cashews, raisins or cranberries. Tossing in some soy nuts will barely be noticeable.

Soy milk is another good option. If you work out regularly, a recent study shows you can build more muscle with a combination of dairy and soy than with either alone.

What the new finding means is that a 55 year old man concerned about prostate health who eats 3 to 4 servings of tomato products each week and one to two servings of soy foods could lower the chances of being diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Cancer Prevention Research
“The interactions of dietary tomato powder and soy germ on prostate carcinogenesis in the TRAMP model”
doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-12-0443
April, 2013

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