Eating broccoli and tomatoes together may offer better protection against prostate cancer than eating either vegetable alone, cancer researchers reported last week at a conference sponsored by the American Institute for Cancer Research.
Research done on rats, supports the idea that the mixtures of compounds in foods work together to preserve health. It also suggests that supplements alone will not work to prevent cancer.
Tomatoes are especially hailed as protective against prostate cancer, and scientists believe the lycopene that makes them red may be responsible. But the researchers found last year that lycopene supplements did little to prevent cancer in rats. Broccoli is also believed to help prevent cancer, because it contains compounds called glucosinolates and perhaps other healthful molecules.
For the latest study the researchers fed rats dried, powdered tomato, dried broccoli, or a combination of both. A fourth group of rats was fed finasteride, a drug shown to reduce the benign growth of the prostate and also being tested for its potential to prevent prostate cancer.
The rats were all injected with human prostate tumors. This mimics human cancer to a certain degree, although not perfectly.
The rats developed tumors, but in those given the food supplements the tumors grew more slowly and stayed smaller than in those given finasteride. The rats given both broccoli and tomato had the smallest tumors.
The study, which will be published in the December 2004 issue of the Journal of Nutrition, shows tomatoes and broccoli may act synergistically.
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