According to the U.S. annual report to the nation on the status of cancer, 1973 to 1998, prostate cancer accounts for 14.8% of all cancers and is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in American men. Age, diet, environmental influences, general health of the prostate gland, and heredity can all contribute to a predisposition to prostate cancer.
Lycopene, a carotenoid found in tomatoes, has been associated with reduced prostate cancer risk, and recently lutein has been linked to prostate cancer prevention according to a recent study at the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition. Lutein is found in green fruits and vegetables such as avocado, celery, parsley, and spinach. The American diet in particular is lacking in lutein-rich foods, and supplementation may be the best way to get enough of this important antioxidant.
According to a report in the Research Journal of Cellular Biochemistry, carotenoids are assimilated more readily through supplementation than from diet alone.
Research conducted at UCLA by Dr. David Heber, MD, and author of What Color Is Your Diet, has shown that lutein reduced prostate cancer cell growth by 25% while lycopene reduced cancer cell growth by 20%. Further, when lutein and lycopene were combined, prostate cancer cell growth was reduced by 32%.
To confirm the favorable lutein results, Dr. Heber studied a rural area of China, which had a low incidence of prostate cancer. The diet there was low in lycopene due to lack of tomato intake, but rich in lutein, due to high green vegetable consumption. The study was expanded to include Caucasian and Chinese American men. The researchers concluded that lutein and lycopene in combination appear to have a synergistic effect against prostate cancer.