Tofu and tomatoes don't for make the best sandwich combo, but together they may be powerful weapons against prostate cancer. According to a new animal study published in the journal 'Cancer Prevention Research,' soy-based foods like tofu, when eaten along with tomatoes, reduced incidence of prostate cancer significantly more than just tomatoes or just soy.
Researchers from the University of Illinois tested these diets on mice that were specifically bred to develop prostate cancer. After 18 weeks, only 45 percent of the soy-and-tomato-fed mice developed the disease, compared to 61 percent of the tomato group and 66 percent of the soy group.
Since this was an animal study, it's too soon to say these same results would be the seen in humans, but the researchers think there's potential. Past studies on men have suggested soy, because it's rich in compounds called isoflavones, can inhibit prostate tumor growth and suppress testosterone, which can help cancer spread. In fact, in Asian nations that have soy-heavy diets, prostate cancer is far less common than in the U.S., where we eat little soy. As for tomatoes, they contain a phytochemical called lycopene that has been shown in animal studies to reduce prostate cancer risk, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research. So eaten together, soy foods and tomatoes offer a one-two anti-cancer punch.
In order to get the level of prostate protection seen in the mice, the researchers suggest getting three to four servings of tomatoes or tomato products per week and one or two servings of soy-based foods or drinks daily.