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BRIEFS Attack of the super tomatoes

A super tomato that has two to three times more cancer-fighting antioxidants as normal tomatoes has been developed at Purdue University.

Scientists from Purdue and the U.S. Department of Agriculture used genetic engineering to produce tomatoes that ripen later, giving them a longer shelf life. They also found that the tomatoes they produced were high in lycopene, the substance that helps color the tomato.

Lycopene also has been associated with reducing the risk of prostate cancer in men who eat tomatoes and tomato sauce regularly.

Boosting the lycopene content of tomatoes might be significant because studies have found that antioxidants taken as food supplements don't seem to have the same efficacy as those eaten as food.

Old age -- it runs in families

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Siblings of people who live to be 100 also are likely to live to be centenarians, a group of researchers has found.

Looking at 444 families that had at least one member living to be 100 or more, the researchers found that brothers of the centenarians were 17 times more likely to live to 100 than the general population. Sisters were eight times more likely to achieve centenarian status.

The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"This striking finding provides further evidence that centenarians and their relatives are a special group in that they appear to be more resistant to disease or they survive disease better throughout the life span," said Dr. Evan Hadley, an official with the National Institute on Aging. "Studying these individuals could help us understand the factors that contribute to long, healthy lives."

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