WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--April 2, 2003--The growing body of research about lycopene, a natural antioxidant found in tomato products, took a giant leap forward this week. Scientists from around the globe convened at the Hotel Washington for a symposium, April 1-2, opened by former U.S. Senator Bob Dole, a prostate cancer survivor. The meeting concluded today with a panel of journalists examining their roles and best practices for communicating health news, such as lycopene research, to the public.
In addition, U.S. Congressman Michael Burgess of Texas, an obstetrician and gynecologist, discussed the impact of fruits and vegetables containing lycopene and other antioxidants on health.
In back-to-back sessions over two days, researchers and participants from Australia, Canada, India, Italy, Israel, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States shared up-to-the-minute findings about the role of fruits and vegetables containing lycopene and other carotenoids. Attendees then congregated on Capitol Hill for a congressional reception with the Chairman of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, Lynn Swann, former Pittsburgh Steeler and member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Male Infertility, Osteoporosis and the Future
Some of the lycopene studies shared in Washington will be published in medical and scientific journals within the next few weeks; others are still underway. The researchers discussed new studies that are in progress or are being planned that examine the effects of lycopene in relation to male infertility; osteoporosis; skin cancer; ocular disease; lung function; and prostate, breast and endometrial cancers.
"Our work shows that a diet rich in lycopene can promote fertility in men struggling with infertility. In part we can conclude that men who have poor quality sperm can benefit from lycopene, and should consider a balanced diet as part of their strategy to reproduce, especially a diet including tomatoes," said Dr. Narmada Gupta, head of the Urology Department at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi, India. His study is scheduled for publication in an upcoming International Journal of Urology and Nephrology.
Dr. Leticia Rao, St. Michael's Hospital, University of Toronto, announced that, "Post-menopausal women tend to lose bone which results in low bone density, leading to osteoporosis. To retain good bones, there must be a balance in the activities of bone-forming and bone-destroying cells. The presence of free radicals in the body can upset that balance favoring bone-destroying cells; however, lycopene might play a restorative role by protecting against the formation of free radicals, limiting oxidative stress." Dr. Rao's study is now beginning its clinical phase.
Dr. David Yeung, general manager, Global Nutrition at H.J. Heinz Company, forecasted, "Interest in lycopene will continue to increase as more consumers become aware of its profile as a healthy, all-natural antioxidant found abundantly in processed tomato products. We are fortunate that nature adds lycopene to tomatoes, and that it is more bio-available when the tomatoes are cooked."
Consumer Awareness Growing
Outside the scientific community, indications are that lycopene, recognized by only six percent of consumers in the late 1990s, has now become synonymous with tomatoes and processed tomato products, such as ketchup, sauce, tomato paste and juice. (For more information, visit www.lycopene.org.)
Lycopene was shown in a University of Toronto study to reduce the risk of prostate cancer and heart disease. Interestingly, it's also been determined that the heat processing of tomatoes releases up to 2.5 times the lycopene from the fruit, making it more bioavailable and absorbable in the body than lycopene from fresh tomatoes.
Previously, a Harvard Medical School study of 48,000 men showed that consuming tomato products twice a week as opposed to never, was associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer of up to 34 percent. Another study, conducted at the University of North Carolina, compared fat samples from 1,379 American and European men who had suffered heart attacks with those of healthy men. It found that those with high levels of lycopene were half as likely to have an attack as those with low levels.
The International Ceres(R) Forum on "Examining the Health Benefits of Lycopene from Tomatoes" was organized by the Center for Food and Nutrition Policy at Virginia Tech and sponsored by H.J. Heinz Company, the world's leading maker of processed tomato products. The company utilizes more than two million tons of tomatoes annually.
About the Center for Food and Nutrition Policy
The Center for Food and Nutrition Policy (CFNP) is an independent, non-profit research and education center chartered at Virginia Tech. The mission of CFNP is to advance rational, science-based food and nutrition policy. It is recognized as a Center of Excellence by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. The center is supported by gifts and grants from private foundations, government agencies, and the food and agriculture industries.
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 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/news.