Tomato pill 'beats heart disease'
Scientists say a
natural supplement made from tomatoes, taken daily, can stave off heart
disease and strokes.
The tomato pill contains an active ingredient from the Mediterranean
diet - lycopene - that blocks "bad" LDL cholesterol that can clog the
Ateronon, made by a biotechnology spin-out company of Cambridge
University, is being launched as a dietary supplement and will be sold
on the high street.
Experts said more
trials were needed to see how effective the treatment is.
Preliminary trials involving around 150 people with heart disease
indicate that Ateronon can reduce the oxidation of harmful fats in the
blood to almost zero within eight weeks, a meeting of the British
Cardiovascular Society will be told at Ateronon's launch on Monday.
Neuroscientist Peter Kirkpatrick, who will lead a further research
project at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge on behalf of Cambridge
Theranostics Ltd, said the supplement could be much more effective than
statin drugs that are currently used by doctors to treat high
But Professor Peter Weissberg of the British Heart Foundation said: "As
always, we caution people to wait for any new drug or modified 'natural'
product to be clinically proven to offer benefits before taking it.
"It will take some time, and several clinical trials, to provide such
evidence for Ateronon.
"In the meantime, our advice to heart disease patients or those at high
risk is to rely on proven medications prescribed by their doctor, and
aim to get the benefits of a Mediterranean diet by eating plenty of
fresh fruit and veg."
He said the British Heart Foundation had supported some of the basic
science at Cambridge University underpinning the development of the
Professor Anthony Leeds, trustee of the cholesterol charity Heart UK,
said: "The new lycopene product Ateronon represents an entirely new
approach to the treatment of high blood cholesterol and opens up the
He said the preliminary findings were "very promising".
Lycopene is an antioxidant contained in the skin of tomatoes which gives
them their red colour. But lycopene ingested in its natural form is
Ateronon contains a refined, more readily absorbed version of lycopene
that was originally developed by Nestle.
Dr Peter Coleman of The Stroke Association said: "We know that diets
rich in antioxidants are beneficial in reducing the plaque build up and
welcome the findings of this research."