The study focuses primarily on black men, who are often underrepresented as clinical subjects. It is also the first to link the effect of tomato sauce consumption to a reduction of human DNA damage, considered a marker for increased cancer risk, according to the researchers.
Researchers at the University of Illinois in Chicago fed 32 volunteers with newly diagnosed prostate cancer three-fourths cup of tomato sauce daily for three weeks. The majority of the subjects (24) were black. In addition to causing significant reductions in DNA damage to prostate cancer cells and leukocytes (white blood cells), the treatment resulted in reduced blood levels of prostate specific antigen (PSA), a protein whose increased levels are strongly linked to a higher prostate cancer risk, according to the researchers.
"This study does not say that tomato sauce reduces cancer," cautions Phyllis E. Bowen, Ph.D., a nutritionist at the university and lead investigator in the study. "It says that it reduces DNA damage that we think is associated with cancer."
Although further studies are needed to determine whether reduced DNA damage is actually protective in healthy individuals who eat tomato sauce, the current study suggests that eating extra tomato sauce perhaps by consuming more pizza, pasta or spaghetti may be beneficial to some, especially to those at high risk for prostate cancer, says Bowen.
As a group, African-American men have approximately a 34 percent higher rate of prostate cancer, and are twice as likely to die fro