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Tomato super pill could hold the key to beating strokes, heart attacks and even cancer


A chemical found in tomatoes could hold the key to cutting the risk of strokes, heart attacks and even cancer.

Scientists have developed a pill called Ateronon which contains the chemical lycopene which is found in tomato skin and thought to be one of the main health benefits of the Mediterranean diet.

Tests had previously shown that lycopene helped unblock arteries but further trials on 36 heart disease patients found that it also boosts the efficiency of blood vessels, softens hardened arteries and improves blood flow.

Ian Wilkinson, director of Cambridge University's clinical trials unit, said: "We think these results are good news and potentially very significant, but we need more trials to see if they translate into fewer heart attacks and strokes."

Peter Kirkpatrick, medical adviser to CamNutra, the company which has developed Ateronon, added: "It is too early to come to any firm conclusions, but the results from this trial are far better than anything we could have hoped for."

David Fitzmaurice, professor of primary care clinical sciences at Birmingham University, said: "If this modified lycopene really does have an effect on endothelial function, then it could have a beneficial effect on virtually every inflammatory disease process, including things like arthritis or diabetes.

"It is all highly speculative at this stage, but this [modified lycopene] might even slow down the development of cancer, which is also linked to inflammation."

Mike Knapton, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, said: "Although this small study showed that lycopene improved blood flow in people with heart disease, that's a long way from demonstrating that taking lycopene could improve outcomes for people with heart disease.

"We still say the best way to get the benefits of a Mediterranean diet is to eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables."

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