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Can tomatoes cause prostate cancer?


A Canadian study has found an association between tomato intake and prostate cancer risk.[1] Not only that, vegetable juices and ketchup were also associated with prostate cancer. According to the study, "Tomato intake had a significant positive association with prostate cancer risk for highest versus lowest quartiles (OR=1.6; 95 percent CI: 1.2-2.0)." The abbreviations OR and CI stand for odds ratio and confidence index, respectively. Ninety five percent confidence index is very high.

Isn't this contrary to everything that we know about eating vegetables? Aren't vegetables supposed to prevent cancer? Tomatoes are found in almost everything we eat including salads, soups, hamburgers, and pizza.

Studies seem to flip-flop a lot about conclusions. Meat is good. Meat is bad. Dairy is good. Dairy is bad. Vegetables are good. Vegetables are bad. Whenever some study comes up with unusual results, we have to wonder about their methodology and their sample sizes. This study does not concern women. Women don't need to worry, but what should men eat?

Tomatoes are native to America, and they have been eaten by millions of people for hundreds of years. Maybe, in the past, the association between tomatoes and prostate cancer could not be detected because men died before they got sick. Now that we live much longer, prostate cancer is more common because it affects older men, and there are enough cases to associate tomato consumption with prostate cancer.

I don't know about you, but I don't plan to change the way I eat based on just one report. Life is eventually fatal anyway, and much worse without tomatoes and ketchup.

[1] Darlington GA, Kreiger N, Lightfoot N, Purdham J, Sass-Kortsak A., Prostate cancer risk and diet, recreational physical activity and cigarette smoking, Chronic Dis Can. 2007;27(4):145-53. PMID: 17623560

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