The tomato pill: Daily dose is good for the heart
8/31/2009 6:38:15 PM -
British scientists have developed a groundbreaking pill which provides all the health benefits of a Mediterranean diet.
One capsule of Ateronon taken daily can break down fatty deposits in the arteries and help prevent heart disease and strokes, potentially saving millions of lives.
The supplement, which costs £35 for a month's supply, contains lycopene, a chemical found in the skin of ripe tomatoes.
Each pill provides the equivalent of eating three kilos of ripe tomatoes. Studies have shown eating an Italian-style diet rich in tomatoes, fish, vegetables, nuts and olive oil can significantly reduce cholesterol and help prevent cardiovascular diseases.
Heart disease is the UK's biggest killer, responsible for 120,000 deaths a year - one of the highest rates in the world - while 70,000 die of strokes.
Ateronon was developed by Cambridge Theranostics, a biotechnology company which employs scientists from Cambridge University.
By combining lycopene with whey, from milk, they shrank the molecule enough for it to be easily absorbed by humans.
An initial trial in 150 heart disease patients found that taking the pill once a day could not only halt but even reverse the buildup of fatty deposits on artery walls in just two months, without side-effects.
Large-scale trials of up to 10,000 patients will begin this year at Cambridge, as well as in the U.S., Italy and Finland.