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Will a tomato pill reduce heart attack?

The Hindu

Scientists have created a daily `tomato pill’ which they claim boosts blood flow and increases the flexibility of arteries by 50 per cent in heart patients.

The Ateronon capsule contains a chemical called lycopene which makes tomatoes red and is known to break down fatty deposits in the arteries.

Cambridge University researchers in trials of the pill found it boosted blood flow and improved the lining of vessels in patients with pre—existing heart conditions.

It also increased the flexibility of their arteries by 50 per cent, the ‘Daily Mail’ reported.

Scientists believe the pill could not only limit the damage caused by heart disease but also benefit those with arthritis, diabetes and even slow the progress of cancer.

Each pill provides the equivalent of eating around 2.7 kg of ripe tomatoes.

Preliminary results from a two—month trial, in which the pill was given to 36 heart disease patients and 36 healthy volunteers with an average age of 67, were presented at a meeting of the American Heart Association.

The results showed that the pill improved the function of the endothelium — the layer of cells lining blood vessels. It also boosted their sensitivity to nitric oxide, the gas which triggers the dilation of the arteries in response to exercise.

“These results are potentially very significant, but we need more trials to see if they translate into fewer heart attacks and strokes,” Ian Wilkinson, of Cambridge University’s clinical trials unit, said.

“It is too early to come to firm conclusions, but the results from this trial are far better than anything we could have hoped for,” Peter Kirkpatrick, a leading neurosurgeon and medical adviser to CamNutra, which has developed Ateronon, said.

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