A weekly roundup of news affecting your health.

A weekly roundup of news affecting your health.


Men who eat more than 10 helpings a week of tomatoes have an 18 per cent lower risk of developing prostate cancer, according to a UK study.

This is thought to be due to lycopene, an antioxidant that fights toxins that can cause DNA and cell damage.

The tomato and its products – such as tomato juice and the sauce in baked beans – were shown to be beneficial in a study of 1806 men aged between 50 and 69 by researchers at the universities of Bristol, Cambridge and Oxford.

They found those who ate at least 10 portions of tomatoes a week were 18 per cent less likely to develop prostate cancer compared with those who had none, or very few.

Cancer Council Australia chief executive Professor Ian Olver said the study offered further confirmation of the benefits of diets that contained fruit and vegetables, rather than processed foods.

“The finding that a diet high in vegetables, particularly tomatoes, makes sense because lycopene has been previously associated with the prevention of prostate cancer,” he said.

In Australia, prostate cancer is the most common diagnosed cancer.

It is more common in older men: 85 per cent of cases are diagnosed in men over 65 years of age.


Adults who were hospitalised for a burn as a child experience higher-than-usual rates of depression and suicidal thoughts, a study suggests.

University of Adelaide researchers looked at 272 people who were hospitalised for burns during childhood from 1980 to 1990.

They found 42 per cent of people surveyed had suffered some form of mental illness and 30 per cent suffered depression at some stage in their lives.

Childhood scalds accounted for 58 per cent of the burns, while 17 per cent were flame burns. The severity of the burns ranged from one per cent to 80 per cent of their bodies.

“Some of these results are concerning, particularly the rates of prolonged episodes of depression and suicide attempts, which are at a level higher than you would expect to find in the general population,” said Dr Miranda van Hooff, of the university’s Centre for Traumatic Stress Studies.

Dr van Hooff says although the burns can be an important factor in these cases, many people surveyed did not directly link the burn with their emotional wellbeing.

“We found that it’s not often the burn itself that has affected people but some other traumatic event,” she said.

“Half of the participants stated clearly in the survey that their personal distress was not related to their burns.”


Adelaide-based researchers are attempting to fight fatigue caused by insomnia and obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) by treating the two conditions at the same time.

About one-third of people with OSA have insomnia and one-third of people with insomnia have OSA, which involves episodes of complete or partial airway obstruction during sleep and results in a fragmented sleep.

Flinders University sleep disorder specialists Professor Doug McEvoy and Professor Leon Lack believe no other sleep clinic in the world has tried to treat OSA and insomnia as co-morbid conditions.

They are recruiting patients for a clinical trial. Adults who experience insomnia and clinical symptoms of OSA, such as heavy snoring and daytime sleepiness, are invited to take part in the study by contacting Mandy O’Grady at the Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health on (08) 8275 1301 or by email at amanda.o’grady@health.sa.gov.au.