Daily tomato consumption helps to LOWER the risk of skin cancer
(NaturalHealth365) In an item that belongs in the “eat more fruits and vegetables” file, researchers have recently found that daily tomato consumption can help to reduce skin cancer risk and tumor growth. This is likely due to the lycopene content of tomatoes, say scientists from Ohio State University.
The researchers fed one group of mice a diet consisting of 10 percent tomato powder for 35 weeks. A second control group was not fed any tomato powder.
Both mice groups were then exposed to ultraviolet light. It was found that the mice who did not eat tomato had a 50 percent higher likelihood of getting skin cancer tumors than those who had eaten tomato powder daily.
Lycopene in tomato offers potent carotenoid benefits against skin cancer
This new study brings exciting evidence about how nutritional interventions could reduce the risk of skin cancer and related diseases. The study results were published in the online journal Scientific Reports and received support from the National Institutes of Health via the National Cancer Institute.
The researchers believe that tomato components called carotenoids have a strong protective effect against UV light damage. Carotenoids are the compounds that give tomatoes and other brightly colored fruits and vegetables their pigmentation. Lycopene is the primary carotenoid in tomatoes, and it is believed to be the main source of its healing and protective benefits.
Interestingly, the study found that females were less assisted by the benefits of tomato. However, previous research has found that male mice tend to develop skin cancer and related tumors sooner after UV exposure.
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Skin cancer tumors in male mice also tend to be bigger, more numerous and spread more aggressively. This difference in results between males and females highlights the fact that there can be differences in the sexes even with helpful nutritional compounds.
Non-melanoma skin cancer: The numbers are staggering
Previous studies in humans have shown that tomato paste helps to minimize the effects of sunburn. This is likely because the lycopene and other carotenoids are deposited into the skin and could be offering direct protective effects.
Again, lycopene is both the primary carotenoid found in tomatoes and a powerful antioxidant that protects the body at a cellular level. However, other carotenoids may also be contributing to the protective effect of tomatoes against UV exposure.
Of all cancer types, non-melanoma skin cancer is the most common – reaching (on average) over 3 million cases per year. In fact, according to the American Cancer Society, each year there are more cases of non-melanoma skin cancers than breast, lung, colon and prostate cancers combined.
Bottom line: Eat more carotenoid-rich fruits and vegetables!
While non-melanoma skin cancer tends to have a low mortality rate, these cancers can be disfiguring and costly to treat. And, let’s not forget the mental – emotional toll.
The tomato study results point to the possibility of offering systemic protection against skin cancer through nutritional interventions like a tomato extract. Simply put, good nutrition does matter.
Of course, eating more organic tomatoes is another way to enjoy their health benefits. The delicious, versatile tomato can be cubed in salads, sliced on sandwiches and cooked into main dishes.
One final point: the tomato is considered a ‘nightshade food.’ So, if you have arthritis or any other food-related health issues (allergies) – check with your doctor before making any dietary changes.
Sources for this article include:
Food & Nutrition
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