PITTSBURGH--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Oct. 21, 2002--Today at the 2002 American Dietetic Association Food and Nutrition Conference and Exhibition (ADA FNCE) in Philadelphia, researchers from the University of Toronto revealed study results that suggest lycopene may have some preventative effects on osteoporosis. Leticia Rao, Ph.D. and Venket Rao, Ph.D., both of the University of Toronto shared their study results today at a press lunch sponsored by H.J. Heinz Company (NYSE:HNZ).
Lycopene -- a powerful antioxidant found abundantly in tomatoes and processed tomato products- has been shown to reduce the risk of other diseases such as cervical cancer, breast cancer and heart disease. Its affects on osteoporosis are just now being looked at closely.
Osteoporosis is a fairly common condition in which bone becomes fragile and fractures easily. It is a chronic, silent disease that has no warning symptoms. Over 10 million Americans, 8 million of them women, suffer from osteoporosis and an additional 34 million people have low bone mass placing them at increased risk. But, this recent research may give new hope to those suffering from the disease.
Because epidemiological studies showed that the incidence of osteoporosis is low in countries consuming large quantities of tomatoes and tomato products and that oxidative stress has been shown to be associated with osteoporosis, the Drs. Rao carried out studies on a cellular level to determine the role of lycopene in prevention of osteoporosis. Besides risk factors such as family history, lifestyle, nutrition and low calcium intake, oxidative stress has been linked to the disease. It was this risk that was studied. "Dietary antioxidants, such as lycopene, offer an effective strategy to prevent oxidative damage and therefore may prevent bone loss," Dr. Leticia Rao said.
Dr. Leticia Rao's studies have indicated that lycopene stimulates parameters in cells that are important for bone formation and prevents cells involved in bone resorption from completing their function. Those findings indicate that lycopene may have an important role in the prevention of osteoporosis. "Our research suggests that treatment and prevention through diet such as the consumption of tomatoes and tomato products rich in lycopene may offer a viable alternative to medication," Dr. Leticia Rao said.
Because the cellular research shows some promising results, the research studies will continue. "We are excited about the results we have thus far and are looking forward to finding out more during our clinical research," Dr. Leticia Rao stated. This clinical research has already begun and participants include post-menopausal women who are at high risk of osteoporosis. The study should be complete in about two years.
H. J. Heinz Company is one of the world's leading processors and marketers of high-quality ketchup, condiments, sauces, meals, soups, snacks and infant foods through all retail and foodservice channels. A host of favorite brands, such as Heinz(R) ketchup, Ore-Ida(R) french fries, Boston Market(R) and Smart Ones(R) meals and Plasmon(R) baby food are the growth drivers in Heinz's two strategic global segments: Meal Enhancers and Meals & Snacks. Heinz's 50 companies have number-one or number-two brands in 200 countries, showcased by the Heinz(R) brand, a global consumer icon with $2.5 billion in annual sales. Fourteen additional brands, each with more than $100 million in annual sales, generate a further $2.6 billion. Information on Heinz is available at www.heinz.com.
Available for Interviews: Dr. Leticia Rao, University of Toronto
Dr. Venket Rao, University of Toronto
Dr. David Yeung, General Manager-
Global Nutrition, H.J. Heinz Company
This press release is also available at www.jackhorner.com.