Lycopene Claims Disallowed

Producers of tomatoes, tomato sauce and dietary supplements containing lycopene -- the substance that makes tomatoes red -- will not be allowed to advertise claims that they reduce the risk of many forms of cancer.

The Food and Drug Administration announced yesterday that it will allow only a few limited health claims to appear on packages of tomatoes and tomato sauce. It rejected proposals to advertise lycopene as having cancer-related benefits.

The ruling was in response to petitions from American Longevity, which makes health products, and the Lycopene Health Claim Coalition, a group that includes ketchup manufacturer H.J. Heinz Co.

The groups contend the lycopene within tomatoes reduces the risk of a number of cancers, including prostate, colon and breast cancer. They offered a number of published studies that they said supported their assertion.

The FDA questioned many of the studies, saying they were not conclusive. American Longevity contends it has a free-speech right to make the statements.

Nut Allergies Often Outgrown

Nine percent of children allergic to tree nuts such as almonds and pecans outgrow their allergy, even those who have had severe reactions, researchers said.

A blood test looking at a tree-nut antibody provides a good indicator of when or if a child has lost the allergy, the team at Johns Hopkins Children's Center found.

"What's crystal clear is that children with these allergies should be regularly re-evaluated," the researchers wrote in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

"Allergic reactions to tree nuts as well as peanuts can be quite severe, and they are generally thought to be lifelong," Robert Wood, who led the study, said. "Our research shows that for some children, however, lifelong avoidance of these nuts, found in countless food products, may not be necessary."

Wood and colleagues tested 278 children and young adults ages 3 to 21 years with a known allergy to tree nuts. Nine percent could eat nuts with no reaction.

An estimated 1 percent to 2 percent of the population is allergic to tree nuts, to peanuts or both.

-- From News Services