To understand this change, it is important to examine the nature of the evidence used to reach the new conclusion. Most of the evidence is based on studies that record what men are eating, or measure blood lycopene levels, and then follow the men for any diagnosis of prostate cancer.
Then dietary or blood factors are linked to risk of cancer diagnosis. Statistical methods are used to account for other factors. Because these studies are examining associations, which may not necessarily be causal, other considerations such as biologic plausibility are taken into account in formulating the conclusions.
The latest report from our Continuous Update Project (CUP), the process by which we rigorously review the global science linking diet, weight and physical activity to various cancers, focuses on the prevention of prostate cancer. We released it last night; this press release reviews the highlights, and takes you to the full report.
One new finding is that obesity is now recognized as a risk factor for advanced prostate cancer – the most deadly type.
As the days have shortened and the nights have grown crisp, the leaves on the trees outside AICR’s Washington, DC, headquarters have begun to show their true colors. Some of these colors are derived from lycopene, a dietary compound that plays a role in preventing cancer.
Lycopene is one of the more well-studied compounds for cancer prevention. It belongs to a class of compounds known as carotenoids and is one of the compounds responsible for leaves’ brilliant reds, oranges, and yellow hues. These fat-soluble pigments are present in many foods, as well, and are what make tomatoes red, pumpkins orange, and squashes yellow.
AICR’s expert report and its continuous updates have found that lycopene reduces the risk of prostate cancer. Along with tomatoes and tomato products, lycopene is also found in other red fruits such as watermelon and red guavas. Interestingly, our bodies can absorb more lycopene from cooked tomato products like spaghetti sauce, ketchup, or salsa because heat changes the configuration of lycopene’s molecules, making it more available.