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Can Tomato Soup Boost Men's Fertility?

A bowl of tomato soup per day can boost fertility among men by seven to 12 percent, scientists claim.

Researchers at the University of Portsmouth studied the effects of lycopene by asking six healthy men to consume a 400 gram can of Heinz cream of tomato soup every day for two weeks.

During the two weeks, the lycopene levels in the men’s semen rose significantly. They are considering further studies to see if lycopene might have the same effect on infertile men.

So far, it’s not known what part lycopene plays in fertility, but it’s been suggested that the antioxidant may remove free radicals that have a negative impact on sperm.

Lycopene has been identified as being beneficial for a wide variety of health conditions, from exercise-induced asthma to prostate cancer. However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stated it has found no evidence to back up the claim that lycopene has any benefit as a cancer prevention.

About 2.6 million men in the United Kingdom have low sperm count. British doctors recommend switching to a healthier lifestyle to increase the odds of conceiving.

The Telegraph July 28, 2007

Journal of the National Cancer Institute 18;99(14):1074-85 July, 2007

Dr. Mercola’s Comments:

When it comes to male fertility, I wholeheartedly agree with the British medical doctors, who tend to prescribe preventive measures far more often than they do here in the United States.

Simple lifestyle changes, including healthier eating habits based on your nutritional and biochemical needs; physical exercise; getting solid, regular sleep; and limiting your exposure to harmful cell phone radiation can make a huge difference in your fertility, and ability to conceive.

One important thing to note is that when adding lycopene to your diet, make sure you’re getting it from whole foods (see table below), and strive for organic whenever possible, for maximum nutritional benefit.

Although lycopene is the active ingredient referenced to in scientific studies, the benefits are really from the synergistic action between lycopene and other phytonutrients within the whole food. Taking lycopene supplements (or any other supplement for that matter) will not give you the same benefit.

Approximate Lycopene Content of Various Foods


Lycopene Content
(mg/100g wet weight)

Apricot, dried


Grapefruit, raw pink


Guava, fresh


Guava juice


Papaya, fresh


Tomatoes, fresh


Tomatoes, cooked


Tomato sauce


Tomato paste


Tomato soup, condensed


Tomato powder, drum or spray dried


Tomato juice


Sun-dried tomato in oil


Watermelon, fresh


Source: Clinton, -S.K.1998. Lycopene: Chemistry, Biology,
and Implications for human health and disease,
Nutrition Review,56(2)P35-51

Also remember that more is not always better. If taken in excess, tomatoes can adversely influence your insulin levels, which can lead to significant health problems. However, if your weight is within the normal range, and you exercise aggressively on a regular basis, this effect is significantly regulated due to the improvement in insulin receptor sensitivity.

The use of lycopene for prostate cancer was also mentioned in the article above. Naturally, the FDA doesn’t want to admit there may be natural options for cancer prevention, as it would cut into profits from the very costly cancer prevention medications that otherwise healthy people are persuaded to take.

However, studies have shown the positive effects of lycopene on cancer. In fact, one study found that higher levels of selenium, vitamin E and lycopene reduced prostate cancer in one out of every four Caucasian males who have a specific genetic variation of the cancer that's particularly sensitive to oxidative stress.

And another Harvard study that included nearly 48,000 men, found that eating tomato sauce a couple of times a week could reduce prostate cancer risk.

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