Tomatoes and stroke protection

Here's another reason to savor tomatoes: A recent study published in the journal Neurology finds they may help lower your risk of ischemic stroke - blockage of a brain artery that starves cells of oxygen and causes them to die.

"We don't understand it entirely yet, but the lycopene in tomatoes may have specific properties that protect the cell in a way other antioxidants may not," says Dr. Edward Giovannucci, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Lycopene, a carotenoid that gives tomatoes their brilliant red color, is also a powerful antioxidant that eliminates dangerous free radical cells that cause damage to our bodies. Past research has shown lycopene may help lower the risk of cancer.

Researchers found men with the greatest amounts of lycopene in their blood had a 55 percent lower chance of having a stroke, and a 59 percent reduction in strokes due to blood clots. Researchers suggest lycopene, in addition to attacking free radicals, also reduces inflammation and cholesterol, improves immune function and prevents blood from clotting. That may be key to reducing strokes, which are caused by blockages in blood flow to the brain (from clotting) or by brain blood vessels that burst.

Exercise for cancer fatigue

Aerobic exercise relieves fatigue during or after cancer treatment, according to the Cochrane Collaboration, an international body of health experts. A newly updated Cochrane review weighed the findings of 56 studies on cancer-related fatigue and exercise.

The research suggests instead of resting, people with cancer-related fatigue should try aerobic exercise if they can. This includes brisk walking, a light workout on a treadmill or exercise cycle, or water aerobics. The review found other forms of exercise, such as resistance training, did not reduce cancer fatigue.

But don't launch into a vigorous new exercise program before checking with your primary care physician, especially if you have cardiovascular disease, arthritis, or other chronic health conditions.