FDA Review Suggests Lycopene Doesn't Cut Cancer Risk

There's not enough credible evidence to support manufacturer's health claims, according to review

WEDNESDAY, July 11 (HealthDay News) -- Scientific studies do not support the claim that tomato and/or lycopene consumption reduces the overall risk of cancer, according to a U.S. Food and Drug Administration evidence-based review published in the July 18 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. However, very limited evidence suggests that there may be an association between tomato consumption and a reduced risk of certain types of cancer, including prostate, ovarian, gastric and pancreatic cancer.

Claudine J. Kavanaugh, Ph.D., of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in College Park, Md., and colleagues reviewed the scientific data and found no credible evidence that lycopene reduces the risk of prostate, lung, colorectal, gastric, breast, ovarian, endometrial or pancreatic cancer, or that tomato reduces the risk of risk of lung, colorectal, breast, cervical or endometrial cancer.

But they did find very limited evidence of an association between tomato and a reduced risk of prostate, ovarian, gastric and pancreatic cancers.

"Conveying the complexity and sometimes subtle differences between such messages to the public is challenging, and there is evidence that consumers have not really understood the language of qualified health claims," states the author of an accompanying editorial.

"A true association is more difficult to demonstrate in the prostate-specific antigen era, which is when most of the recent studies that found no association were conducted," states the author of another accompanying editorial.

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Editorial - Paul M. Coates
Editorial - Edward Giovannucci

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