DP News

Harvard Scientific Review Paper Shows People Who Regularly
Eat Tomatoes and Processed Tomato Products May Lower Their Risk of Cancer

February 16, 1999 - Tomatoes and tomato products may substantially reduce risk of a variety of cancers, according to a comprehensive scientific review paper published in the February 17 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. The review paper, titled "Tomatoes, Tomato-Based Products, Lycopene, and Cancer: Review of the Epidemiologic Literature" by Edward Giovannucci, MD., Sc.D., of Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health, evaluated 72 studies regarding tomato and tomato product intake, blood lycopene levels, and their association to cancer risk reduction.

"The review indicated that individuals who consumed higher levels of tomato products or had higher blood levels of lycopene, a compound found primarily in tomatoes, had a lower risk of several types of cancers," says Dr. Giovannucci. "Increasing evidence indicates that a diet high in fruits and vegetables may contribute to a lower risk of a variety of cancers. These findings extend this evidence to tomato and tomato products, and support recommendations to include tomatoes and tomato products as part of a diet high in fruits and vegetables."

Dr. Giovannucci suggested that lycopene and other carotenoids - phytochemicals that give tomatoes their characteristic red color - may account for a protective association between tomatoes, tomato products and various cancers. One explanation may be that carotenoids exhibit strong antioxidant properties. Serving-for-serving, chemical analyses have shown that tomato-based products are a more concentrated source of lycopene than fresh, unprocessed tomatoes. Dr. Giovannucci suggested that other components in the tomatoes may also contribute to the reduced cancer risk association.

The potential benefits of lycopene first came to the attention of the public in December 1995, when Dr. Giovannucci and his colleagues at Harvard Medical School found an inverse association between dietary lycopene and prostate cancer. The study showed that the risk of prostate cancer was a third lower in men who consumed lycopene-rich foods (tomatoes, tomato sauce, and pizza) more than ten times a week compared to those who consumed these products less than twice a week.

Dr. Giovannucci's 1999 review paper examined epidemiologic evidence from hospital-based and population-based case-control studies for associations between consumption of tomato products and risk reduction of various cancers. Highlights from this review include:

Prostate Cancer - The evidence supports a very specific benefit of tomato products, especially those that provide high lycopene availability. In a large dietary comprehensive study, tomato sauce had the strongest inverse association with prostate cancer out of 131 food items assessed. An analysis of the research did not support a general benefit of overall fruit and vegetable consumption.

Pancreatic Cancer - An inverse association between consumption of tomato products and pancreatic cancer was shown. Two small studies showed a four- to five-fold risk increase among study subjects with low intake of tomato products.

Lung Cancer - The literature suggests that several fruit and vegetable groups, including tomatoes, are associated with lower cancer risk. Ten of the 14 studies in the analysis showed an inverse relationship between consumption of tomato products and risk of lung cancer.

Colorectal Cancer - Case-control studies in populations that consume large amounts of tomato products reported a 60% reduction in risk of both colon and rectal cancers associated with higher tomato consumption.

"This is a very significant report for the scientific and health community," notes Dr. Steven Clinton, M.D., Ph.D., Director of Cancer Prevention at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Centers. "Because the review paper looked at all the human studies conducted to date, which incorporated diverse populations and a variety of study designs, it is unlikely that there are any consistent biases or uncontrolled confounding factors common to this collection of studies. As a result, this review provides valuable insight into the role of tomato products in a healthy diet and cancer prevention."

"The good news for Americans is that tomato-based products are already a tasty and nutritious staple in our diets, and they offer an easy way to meet the Five-A-Day recommendations for fruits and vegetables," states Mary Lee Chin, M.S., R.D., a nutrition trends expert. "Now here's another reason for us to eat more of our favorite tomato soups, pasta sauces and tomato vegetable juices

Researchers Suggest Five Servings a Week of
Tomato-Rich Products May Decrease Risk of Prostate Cancer

Data Presented on Tomato Products and Health at International Conference

Sacramento, June 9, 2000 - Men interested in lowering their risk of prostate and other cancers should consider eating at least five servings of tomato- based products a week, according to scientific research being presented at the fourth annual World Congress on the Processing Tomato on Saturday, June 10 in Sacramento. A number of studies have already cited lycopene, a naturally occurring substance in tomatoes, as one of the substances that may be associated with the reduced risk of prostate and other cancers.
Each year in the U.S., an estimated 180,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer.1 Nearly 37,000 are expected to die of the disease this year.2
"We believe that the research data are compelling and that it is timely to urge consumers to increase their overall intake of fruits and vegetables and to emphasize tomato products since tomatoes provide lycopene, believed to have antioxidant properties," says conference speaker David Heber, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of California at Los Angeles. "As little as six ounces of tomato-based vegetable juice or a bowl of tomato soup have been shown to help elevate blood lycopene levels."

In a recent review of 72 studies published in the Journal of National Cancer Institute (February 17, 1999), Dr. Edward Giovannucci of Harvard Medical School concluded that intake of tomatoes, and tomato based products, has been consistently related to elevated blood lycopene levels and a lower risk of a variety of cancers.

"The health benefits of tomato products came to light five years ago when a Harvard study showed that risk of prostate cancer was a third lower in men who consumed more tomato products like pasta sauce," says Steven Schwartz, Ph.D., Professor of Food Science and Nutrition at The Ohio State University. "Since then, new research has supported a link with tomato products and decreased risk of other cancers, including pancreatic cancer, lung cancer and colorectal cancer."

Processing Increases Benefits
Research has shown that the cooking and processing of tomato products appear to make lycopene even more readily available to the body, indicating that there may be an added health benefit to eating processed tomato products like tomato soup and tomato sauce.

Researchers are currently evaluating popular consumer products to increase their understanding of the association between consumption of processed tomato products, lycopene and reduced risk of prostate cancer. In a study conducted by Heber, "Plasma Lycopene and Carotenoid Profiles in Prostate Cancer Patients Supplemented with Mixed Vegetable Juice," thirty eight patients (ages 52-79) with prostate cancer, not undergoing active treatment, were studied over a three-month period. A highly significant increase of carotenoids and lycopene was observed in prostate cancer patients given dietary instruction to follow a low-fat high-fiber diet supplemented with six ounces of vegetable juice daily, suggesting that a mixed vegetable juice supplement may increase bioavailable lycopene and carotenoids in prostate cancer patients.

In a separate study by Schwartz and colleagues, 36 healthy adults (ages 18-65) consumed standard daily servings of three familiar processed tomato products: "Prego" pasta sauce, "Campbell's" tomato soup or "V8" vegetable juice. The study showed that lycopene is readily absorbed from these products, although bioavailability differs for each, and that a single daily serving of as little as six ounces of tomato juice or a bowl of tomato soup can significantly increase blood lycopene levels.

"We're continuing to learn more and more about the connection between food and disease prevention," says Schwartz. "According to health professional, eating at least five servings a day of fruits and vegetables is prudent and now it makes good sense to include tomato products as one of the five choices each day, not only to help lower the risk of cancer but to help meet daily fruit and vegetable recommendations and promote overall health."

The World Congress on the Processing Tomato is an annual international conference of renowned scientists and researchers on current practices and future developments in processing tomato production and utilization. This is the first year that the conference has focused on the health benefits of tomato products.
1,2American Foundation for Urologic Disease, Inc.

Harvard Study Links Tomato-Rich Foods and
Carrots to Reduced Risk of Lung Cancer

High Intake of Lycopene and Alpha-Carotene Lowers Risk By 20-25 Percent
October 11, 2000 - A new study conducted by a team of Harvard researchers links diets rich in tomato-based foods and carrots to reduced risk of lung cancer. Each year in the United States, over 150,000 men and women die of lung cancer -- more than any other cancer.

"Our data suggest that Lycopene is an important carotenoid for protection against lung cancer, especially in current smokers," says Edward Giovannucci, M.D., Sc.D., of Harvard School of Public Health, and one of the study's lead researchers.

The findings, reported in the October issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN), are the result of an analysis of over 124,000 men and women participating during a ten-year period in the Health Professionals Follow Up Study and the Nurses Health Study. Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health found that individuals consuming the highest amounts of two carotenoids in their diet, alpha-carotene and Lycopene, had a 20-25% lower risk of lung cancer.

The Harvard findings provide additional support for the potential health benefits of vegetables such as processed tomato products and carrots. Previous studies examining the relationship between fruit and vegetable intake and the risk of lung cancer have generally found that fruits and vegetables have a protective effect. The latest study found specifically that foods containing Lycopene and alpha carotene appear to provide protection against lung cancer.

Lycopene, the natural pigment that gives tomatoes their red color, is obtained predominantly from tomato-rich foods such as pasta sauces, tomato soups, tomato-based vegetable juice and ketchup which provide more than 85% of dietary Lycopene in the American diet. Alpha-carotene is found in carrots and multi component foods such as tomato-based vegetable juice.

According to Dr. Giovannuci, "We also observed a stronger association with Lycopene and lung cancer when we took into consideration forms of tomato-rich foods that enhanced the body's ability to absorb and use Lycopene. The body is better able to absorb and use the Lycopene in cooked tomato products than raw tomatoes," he said.

Dr. Giovannucci also pointed out that for non-smokers who have never smoked, high intakes of alpha-carotene were found to significantly lower the risk of lung cancer. It was Dr. Giovannucci who conducted an earlier review of 72 studies evaluating tomato and tomato product intake, blood Lycopene levels and their association with cancer risk reduction. That study was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (February 17, 1999) and concluded that intake of tomatoes and tomato-rich foods was associated with a lower risk of a variety of cancers, including prostate cancer.

In an editorial in AJCN commenting on the new Harvard study, Dr. David Heber, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of California at Los Angeles, points out that "a significant reduction in cancer risk was noted in association with an increased intake of Lycopene, even in smokers. Interestingly, smoking alters the concentration of most carotenoids, including beta-carotene, but not Lycopene."

In a separate interview, Dr. Heber emphasized that "while smoking cessation remains the most important strategy for preventing lung cancer, Lycopene may have a special role in lung cancer prevention. Based on these observations, I would recommend that men and women interested in reducing their risk of cancer eat at least five servings of tomato products per week," stated Dr. Heber. "As little as six ounces of tomato-based vegetable juice or an eight ounce serving of tomato soup have been shown to help elevate blood Lycopene levels," he said.

These tomatoes are Jersey Fresh
Monday, January 21, 2008
By Jessica Beym

When it comes to canned tomatoes, it doesn’t get any fresher than this.

The fruits of last summer’s labor from six South Jersey farmers can soon be enjoyed even in the dead of winter, as the latest line of Jersey Fresh products hits store shelves.

In a joint venture to promote the same juicy tomatoes that give New Jersey its Garden State nickname, Violet Packing of Williamstown along with its tomato growers and a few state agriculture experts are introducing Jersey Fresh Canned Crushed Tomatoes.

The canned tomatoes grown in South Jersey are the latest to join a long list of certified Jersey Fresh products, including asparagus, blueberries, and even milk.

“All over the country, people recognize it,” said New Jersey Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Lynne Richmond. “When they see the brand on a product in a store, they know it’s quality, local, and fresh.”

Violet Packing known for its canned tomato products under the name of Don Pepino’s spaghetti and pizza sauces is among the last of many tomato packers that once flourished in New Jersey.

“When we started this (Jersey Fresh product), we were looking more toward the benefit of the farmers and the state,” said Chip Sclafani, vice president of sales for Violet Packing. “I look back and say, finally someone has come to the realization that Jersey Fresh tomatoes should be promoted.”

And the farmers will get the recognition.

Violet Packing’s growers come from Burlington, Gloucester, Salem and Cumberland counties. They are Chip Katona, Joseph Leone, Ian Baitinger, Randy Dickinson, Michael Brooks and Edward Brynes.

On the morning the vine-ripened tomatoes are picked from the fields, they’re shipped by the truckload to the packing plant in Williamstown where they’re processed and put in cans within less than 24 hours.

Last season, more than 1,100 acres were farmed for Violet Packing’s products, and the weather conditions were just right for growing dry, not too hot, and lots of sunshine.

“It was the best year we had,” said Sam Ragusa, chief operating officer.

It is this product that will soon be sold in 28 ounce cans with the Jersey Fresh logo.

More than 1,000 convenience stores, Italian mom and pop shops, and the supermarket chain Foodtown are slated to carry to Jersey Fresh Canned Crushed Tomatoes within the next month, through the distributor Consolidated Dairies, Inc., of Bergen County.

So far, most of the locations are in North Jersey. The farmers are hoping that the product will eventually make its way to South Jersey grocery stores and farm market stands.

But having their produce sold in the more populous and developed northern end of the state is a great start, the farmers said.

“Jersey Fresh sells well in North Jersey because they know what they’ve lost,” said Bill Brooks, of Upper Pittsgrove Township in Salem County.

Toward the southern end of Gloucester County and beyond, large housing developments give way to sprawling fields of cultivated crops evidence that the prominent farming history in the state still exists.

At one time, New Jersey was home to 59 tomato packers, Ragusa said. But now there is only one Violet Packing.

“We’re all natural, and that’s what makes us so unique,” Ragusa said. “These guys grow great tomatoes and lots of them.”

Burlington County farmer Chip Katona remembers when tomato growers sent their tomatoes to processors throughout New Jersey Campbell Soup in Camden, Progresso in Vineland, and even Heinz and Hunts.

All the big name brands that can be found on the shelves today were once in New Jersey, said Sclafani, Violet’s vice president.

Farmers are hoping the idea of the Jersey Fresh label may be enough to entice buyers to stray from their trusted brand and try the local product.

“Anything that helps Violet move more product in turn helps us,” said farmer Michael Brooks, “It has direct benefits for us.”

In addition to their contracts with Violet Packing, the farmers have also been promised a premium for every Jersey Fresh can that’s sold.

“Maybe the state will get rich,” said Sclafani. “Not money rich, but rich through the appreciation of what a Jersey tomato really is.”

To have Jersey Fresh Canned Crushed Tomatoes sold in any local store, call Consolidated Dairies at 1-800-866-0137.

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