Today’s Headlines: Tomatoes, Overconfidence and Colonoscopies

Tomatoes may lead to less prostate cancer. It looks like tomatoes are more than just a tasty addition to a burger or salad. New research out of the UK this week found that men who ate 10 or more portions of tomatoes per week were 18% less likely than men with less tomato in their diet to develop prostate cancer. “Eating the recommended five servings of fruit or vegetables or more a day was also found to decrease risk by 24%, compared with men who ate two-and-a-half servings or less. ‘Our findings suggest that tomatoes may be important in prostate cancer prevention,’” said one of the researchers on the team. The authors emphasize further studies are still needed to confirm the findings. “The cancer-fighting properties of tomatoes are thought to be due to lycopene, an antioxidant which can protect against DNA and cell damage. The researchers also looked at two other dietary components linked with prostate cancer risk – selenium, found in flour-based foods such as bread and pasta, and calcium, found in dairy products such as milk and cheese. Men who had optimal intake of these three dietary components had a lower risk of prostate cancer, they said.” Experts emphasize these foods should be included as part of a balanced diet. (BBC)

More support for “fake it ‘til you make it.” It looks like we may have underestimated the importance of confidence. A group of researchers gathered a group of students and asked them to estimate their grades. They were then rated by others on how smart or talented they were perceived to be. The researchers “found that students who over-estimated their own grades tended to be perceived as more talented, and students who underestimated their grades were seen as less talented, regardless of their actual capabilities.” As per the authors, “our results support the idea that self-deception facilitates the deception of others. Overconfident individuals were overrated and underconfident individuals were underrated.” The findings have broader implications for who might be rising to the top. “The researchers also warned that over-confidence can have more of an effect on individual decisions like picking a mate or hiring for jobs, resulting in self-deceptive and risk-prone people being promoted to powerful roles. (TIME)

Those with single polyps may not need frequent colonoscopies. Right now, if you get a colonoscopy and have a polyp removed, your next appointment will be made for five years later instead of 10 since you’re thought to be at higher risk of cancer. A new study throws that into question this week. “Researchers tracked 40,826 polypectomy (polyp removal) patients for a median of eight years. Patients who had a single low-risk polyp removed had a much lower risk of colon cancer, compared to the general population and to patients who had multiple or aggressive polyps removed. Overall, the mortality rate was similar between polypectomy patients and the general population – however, those who had high-risk polyps removed had a significantly higher mortality.” About one quarter of all colonoscopies done in the U.S. are a result of increased screening after initial polyp removal. According to the lead author, “these findings support more intense surveillance of the high-risk group, but should maybe lead to reconsideration of the guidelines regarding the low-risk group.” (Fox)