- Prescribing Advice for GPs - https://www.prescriber.org.uk -

Tomato-pill for heart disease

A launch of a natural supplement that reduces oxidation levels of low density lipoprotein has been reported in the general media, as detailed on NHS Choices.

Ateronon® contains a form of lycopene, an antioxidant founds in tomatoes. It is claimed that the product can help to reduce "cholesterol oxidation – a leading cause of atherosclerosis, heart attacks and strokes".

It is worth remembering that large randomised controlled studies of antioxidants conducted in parallel with the statin studies have failed to find a benefit for antioxidant therapy. Scientific evidence supporting this product that is available via the product website is limited to two small, open label studies in which 22 patients took the study medication. The research has involved analysis of surrogate markers only and there is no evidence in terms of reductions in heart attacks or strokes.

The manufacturers advise that patients on prescription medication talk to their doctor before starting this supplement. It should also be noted that this product is classed as a food supplement and therefore it has no product licence. Responsibility for any prescription would rest entirely with the prescribing clinician.

Action: Clinicians should be aware of this product and the media interest. There are no data to support long term health benefits and as such this product cannot be considered as a replacement for proven therapies, for example statins. This is also the recommendation made by the British Heart Foundation.