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Lycopene protects against heart attacks

CHAPEL HILL, NORTH CAROLINA. A multicenter, case-control study was conducted in 1989-1992 to analyze the relation between carotene status and the risk of a first heart attack (myocardial infarction). Medical centers in 10 countries participated and recruited over 1300 men who had suffered a first myocardial infarction. Adipose (fatty) tissue samples were collected and the levels of tocopherols and beta-carotene were determined shortly after the attack. A high carotene level was found to be associated with a lower risk of a first heart attack. On further analysis only lycopene remained independently protective with an odds ratio of 0.50 (a 50 per cent reduction in risk). The protective effect of lycopene was found to increase with increasing concentrations. Adipose tissue content of carotenes has been found to be a useful indicator of dietary intake. Good dietary sources of lycopene are tomatoes, tomato products, watermelons and grapefruits. The study excluded men who had reported a physician-prescribed change in diet, an alternate use of supplements, or a weight change of more than five kilograms. Controls were matched for age, socioeconomic status, body mass index, smoking, hypertension, and a family history of the disease.
Kohlmeier, Lenore, et al. Lycopene and myocardial infarction risk in the EURAMIC study. American Journal of Epidemiology, Vol.146, October 15, 1997, pp.618-26

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