Soy/Tomato Combo Prevent Prostate Cancer

Here’s the latest on preventing prostate cancer. While this form of cancer is the most common form of disease in men, it is nearly 100% treatable when diagnosed and addressed in the early stages. Oncologists will tell you, preventing cancer is always better than fighting the disease once its taken hold.

Earlier work in this area had found that prostate cancer rates are lower in nations where soy is a regular part of the diet. In fact the soy isoflavones serum and prostate levels in lab mice are very similar to Asian men who eat a serving (or two) of soy a day. Researchers from the University of Illinois are now reporting that two foods – soy and tomato – may actually prevent this cancer in mice when eaten in combination. The study was done on genetically engineered lab mice, bred to develop a rapidly progressing, aggressive form of prostate cancer.

From the age of 4 to 18 weeks, the subject mice were divided into four groups – one got 10% whole tomato powder as part of the diet, another got 2% soy germ, a third got the tomato combined with soy germ and the fourth served as the control group, getting just standard lab mouse food. This time frame was meant to reflect an early and lifelong exposure to the bioactive compounds and elements in the foods studied.

The mice fed tomato and soy germ were found to have no cancerous lesions in their prostate when the study ended, compared to ALL the mice in the control group who had no soy or tomato. Study lead John Erdman, a professor of food science and nutrition from the University of Illinois and colleagues found that eating tomato, soy and the combination of the two all significantly brought down prostate cancer incidence, but the combination gave the best results. Only 45% of the mice fed both foods ended up with this disease, compared to 61% in the tomato only group, 66% in the soy germ group.

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Soy/Tomato Combo Prevent Prostate Cancer Continued…

But before you go out and stock up on tasty tomatoes, there’s another rather large study from 2009 conducted by experts at the National Cancer Institute and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center that found that lycopene, the antioxidant so abundant in tomatoes, is not what prevents prostate cancer. Even though earlier studies had suggested a diet full of lycopene would provide protection against prostate cancer, this study didn’t follow that line. The work appeared in the May 2007 issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. The findings were a disappointment, as the researchers were hoping for a simple, affordable way to bring down risks of prostate cancer.

Erdman suggests that perhaps the brunt of nutritional focus be on the soy germ, as it has a very different isoflavones profile than the rest of the soybean. Soy germ is very high in isoflavones, daidzein and glycitein, but low in genistein, the substance that usually gets most of the attention. In fact, the soy product used in the research was low in genistein, but still had plenty of power when it came to preventing cancer.

While you wait for more work to clarify the picture to stay healthy and cancer free, continue making healthy eating choices, exercising regularly and following up with your doctor.

To your good health,