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We are grateful for the interest in our paper expressed by Barber et al., and their comments on lycopene. There is at present great interest in evaluating the link between diet and prostate cancer, and Barber et al. correctly identify lycopene as one of the dietary components being considered as having a key role in a possible dietary aetiology. Carotenoids are a widely distributed group of naturally occurring pigments, usually red, orange or yellow, with lycopene being one type of carotenoid. Unfortunately, given the vastness of the subject of a potential dietary cause for prostate cancer, we did not specifically mention the potential role of lycopene. We also only briefly mentioned another important dietary component, the trace element selenium. This is presently the subject of a North American double-blind randomized study (the ‘selenium vitamin E chemoprevention trial’, SELECT), the initial results of which are expected in 2012 and are eagerly awaited.