Lycopene may help prevent osteoporosis

A new study from the University of Toronto suggests that a phytochemical found in tomatoes may help prevent osteoporosis. Calcium researchers at the university examined the link between nutrition and osteoporosis in postmenopausal women, according to the Vancouver Sun.

In the study, women aged 50 to 60 were initially restricted from consuming anything containing lycopene - a bright red phytochemical found in tomatoes, watermelons and papayas - for a month. For the rest of the investigation, participants were split into four groups. Twice a day, the women either consumed a 15-milligram lycopene supplement, a glass of Heinz tomato juice naturally containing 15 mg of lycopene, a gourmet Japanese tomato juice with 35 mg of lycopene or a placebo.

"Within a month [without lycopene], the participants were more prone to the risk of osteoporosis," said Leticia Rao, director of the Calcium Research Laboratory.

For the next phase, during which participants consumed tomato juice or supplements, "the results were the opposite. We found increased antioxidant capacity, decreased oxidative stress parameters and decreased bone resorption markers."

According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, 44 million Americans are at increased risk for bone fracture.