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   Mar 28

They help you see in the dark – now carrots can reduce the risk of prostate cancer

Men who eat carrots three times a week are 18% less likely to get the cancer

It is not known exactly why carrots are protective against prostate cancer

It could be related to their high carotenoid content

They’re best known for supposedly helping us to see in the dark.

But carrots could also be a much more powerful force for good health, at least for men, new research shows.

Scientists have found that regularly eating the brightly-coloured vegetables appears to reduce the risk of prostate cancer by almost a fifth.

Men who eat carrots at least three times a week are 18 per cent less likely to develop prostate cancer

Men who included carrots as part of their regular diet, eating them at least three times a week, were 18 per cent less likely to develop a prostate tumour, according to findings published in the latest European Journal of Nutrition.

The study, by scientists at Zhejiang University in China, pulled together the results of ten smaller studies from different parts of the world looking at the anti-cancer effects of carrots.

This type of research, called a meta-analysis, is performed when findings from lots of studies with small numbers of patients produce conflicting findings.

Some research has suggested carrots do protect the prostate against disease, others have found little or no benefit.

Scientists pooled data from ten studies and looked at the overall effects on cancer risk.

Most of the studies looked at cancer rates in men who ate carrots three to five times a week compared with men who ate them once a week or less.

When the individual results were combined, researchers found carrots had a significant impact on disease rates, even when they allowed for other factors that could increase the men’s risk of illness -such as if they were obese.

Nearly 40,000 cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed every year in the UK and 10,000 men die from it – the equivalent of more than one an hour.

It is not known exactly why carrots are protective against prostate cancer but it could be because of their carotenoid content. Image shows prostate cancer cells
The risks increase with age, with men over 50 more likely to develop a tumour, and there is a strong genetic element to it.

Average UK carrot consumption is more than ten kilogrammes per person – or roughly 100 carrots each a year.

It’s not exactly clear how carrots might exert their protective effect but they are known to be a good source of carotenoids – chemicals that give them their bright orange pigments.

The best-known carotenoids, such as beta-carotene and lycopene, have long been considered potentially powerful weapons against cancer by reducing damage to cells by oxidative stress.

In a report on their findings the researchers said: ‘We found a significantly decreased risk of prostate cancer associated with a high intake of carrots.

‘Several potential mechanisms could explain the association between carrot consumption and the risk of prostate cancer.

‘But further well-designed studies are warranted to confirm our findings.’

Dr Iain Frame, director of research at Prostate Cancer UK said a healthy diet is crucial to preventing the disease but there is no strong evidence that eating carrots instead of something else provides added benefit.

‘While there are general health benefits associated with eating a balanced diet rich in vegetables, there is nothing to suggest that one particular vegetable is better than any other.

‘The known risk factors for prostate cancer are being 50 and over, having a close male relative with the disease or being of black ancestry.’

Cancer Research UK science information manager Dr Kat Arney says a healthy diet can help to reduce the risk of many types of cancer.

But she stressed: ‘Many of the studies included in this analysis were relatively small.’

Source: Daily Mail

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