Tomato pill 'beats heart disease'

Scientists say a natural supplement made from tomatoes, taken daily, can stave off heart disease and strokes.

The tomato pill contains an active ingredient from the Mediterranean diet - lycopene - that blocks "bad" LDL cholesterol that can clog the arteries. Ateronon, made by a biotechnology spin-out company of Cambridge University, is being launched as a dietary supplement and will be sold on the high street. Experts said more trials were needed to see how effective the treatment is.

Preliminary trials involving around 150 people with heart disease indicate that Ateronon can reduce the oxidation of harmful fats in the blood to almost zero within eight weeks, a meeting of the British Cardiovascular Society will be told at Ateronon's launch on Monday.

Neuroscientist Peter Kirkpatrick, who will lead a further research project at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge on behalf of Cambridge Theranostics Ltd, said the supplement could be much more effective than statin drugs that are currently used by doctors to treat high cholesterol.

But Professor Peter Weissberg of the British Heart Foundation said: "As always, we caution people to wait for any new drug or modified 'natural' product to be clinically proven to offer benefits before taking it.

Source - BBC