A daily tomato pill to cut heart attacks: Drug 'boosts blood flow and artery health'
Ateronon pill contains chemical in tomato skin hailed for unclogging arteries
Further trials show it also boosts blood vessel efficiency and blood flowFirst time the key health benefit of Mediterranean diet has been pin-pointed
Researchers believe the pill could save millions of lives around the world

By
Nick Mcdermott

PUBLISHED:

18:20 GMT, 6 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

00:18 GMT, 7 January 2013

No one would much like the idea of eating 6lb of tomatoes a day.

But if their goodness was popped in an easy-to-swallow pill that you were told might prevent strokes and heart attacks you would probably be putting in an order tomorrow.

Researchers believe they may have come up with just that after trials on the supplement Ateronon.

Health secret: The Ateronon pill contains the lycopene chemical found in tomato skin

Health secret: The Ateronon pill contains the lycopene chemical found in tomato skin

The daily pill contains a chemical
called lycopene which makes tomatoes red and is known to break down
fatty deposits in the arteries.

A Cambridge University study found
taking the capsule boosted blood flow and improved the lining of vessels
in patients with pre-existing heart conditions. It also increased the
flexibility of their arteries by 50 per cent.

The scientists believe it could limit
the damage caused by heart disease – responsible for 180,000 deaths a
year – and help cut the 49,000 deaths a year from strokes.

Breakthrough: Scientists believe the new pill will save millions of lives around the world

'Very significant': Dr Ian Wilkinson, director of Cambridge University's clinical trials unit

Breakthrough: Scientists believe the new pill will save millions of lives around the world. Dr Ian Wilkinson, right, is the director of Cambridge University's clinical trials unit

Natural remedy: The pill incorporates a newly developed version of modified lycopene compound

Natural remedy: The pill incorporates a newly developed version of modified lycopene compound

Pugh

They also
hope it could benefit those with arthritis, diabetes and even slow the
progress of cancer.

Each pill provides the equivalent of eating around
6lb of ripe tomatoes.

Studies have shown eating a Mediterranean-style
diet rich in tomatoes, fish, vegetables, nuts and olive oil can
significantly reduce cholesterol and help prevent cardiovascular
disease.

Preliminary results from a two-month
trial, in which the pill was given to 36 heart disease patients and 36
healthy volunteers with an average age of 67, were presented at a
meeting of the American Heart Association.

It was shown to improve the function
of the endothelium – the layer of cells lining blood vessels. It also
boosted their sensitivity to nitric oxide, the gas which triggers the
dilation of the arteries in response to exercise.

Ian Wilkinson, of Cambridge
University’s clinical trials unit, said: ‘These results are potentially
very significant, but we need more trials to see if they translate into
fewer heart attacks and strokes.’

Peter Kirkpatrick, a leading
neurosurgeon and medical adviser to CamNutra, which has developed
Ateronon, said: ‘It is too early to come to firm conclusions, but the
results from this trial are far better than anything we could have hoped
for.’

Further studies are planned, with
researchers hoping it could offer an alternative to statins for heart
disease sufferers who cannot take the cholesterol-lowering drugs.

Mike Knapton, of the British Heart
Foundation, said: ‘Although this showed lycopene improved blood flow in
people with heart disease, that’s a long way from demonstrating that
taking it could improve outcomes for people with heart disease.

The best
way to get the benefits of a Mediterranean diet is to eat plenty of
fresh fruit and vegetables.’

Trial: Ateronon was shown to dramatically improve the function of the cells lining blood vessels

Trial: Ateronon was shown to dramatically improve the function of the cells lining blood vessels

Under the microscope: Dr Wilikinson said more trials are needed to explore the health benefits further

Under the microscope: Dr Wilikinson said more trials are needed to explore the health benefits further