When it comes to fighting prostate cancer, it seems that a combo of tomato and broccoli in your daily diet – both known for their cancer-fighting qualities – is better than having the two vegetables separately, a new study has found.
The study was conducted by University of Illinois food science and human nutrition professor John Erdman and doctoral candidate Kirstie Canene-Adams.
As a part of the study, the researchers fed a diet containing 10 per cent tomato powder and 10 percent broccoli powder to laboratory rats that had been implanted with prostate cancer cells.
The powders were made from whole foods so the effects of eating the entire vegetable could be compared with consuming individual parts of them as a nutritional supplement.
Other rats in the study received either tomato or broccoli powder alone; or a supplemental dose of lycopene, the red pigment in tomatoes thought to be the effective cancer-preventive agent in tomatoes; or finasteride, a drug prescribed for men with enlarged prostates. Another group of rats was castrated.
After 22 weeks, the tumours were weighed, and the researchers noted that the tomato/broccoli combo outperformed all other diets in shrinking prostate tumours.
Biopsies of tumours were also evaluated at The Ohio State University, and confirmed that tumour cells in the tomato/broccoli-fed rats were not proliferating as rapidly.
The only treatment that approached the tomato/broccoli diet's level of effectiveness was castration, said the researchers.
"As nutritionists, it was very exciting to compare this drastic surgery to diet and see that tumor reduction was similar. Older men with slow-growing prostate cancer who have chosen watchful waiting over chemotherapy and radiation should seriously consider altering their diets to include more tomatoes and broccoli," said Canene-Adams.
Canene-Adams also revealed the quantity of tomato and broccoli a 55-year-old man concerned about prostate health should eat in order to receive these benefits.
"To get these effects, men should consume daily 1.4 cups of raw broccoli and 2.5 cups of fresh tomato, or 1 cup of tomato sauce, or ½ cup of tomato paste. I think it's very doable for a man to eat a cup and a half of broccoli per day or put broccoli on a pizza with ½ cup of tomato paste," said Canene-Adams.
The study is published in the January 15 issue of Cancer Research.