Daily Intake of Tomatoes May Protect Against Skin Cancer

The benefits of consuming tomatoes everyday are impressive. As the proportion of this plant food in the healthy diet increases, the chances of developing chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease and cancer go down. Making an important addition to its health benefits, a recent study has showed that daily intake of tomatoes may significantly slash risk of skin cancer.

Daily Intake of Tomatoes May Protect Against Skin Cancer Given that tomatoes contain beneficial phytochemicals such as lycopene, they play a key role in preventing skin cancer development, the study found.

A versatile fruit-cum vegetable, tomatoes are the rich dietary source of the antioxidant lycopene, which has already been tested in clinical studies and showed to reduce risk of heart disease and cancer. Also, tomatoes are known to protect skin from damaging effects of sunlight and combat free radicals to slow the aging of the skin. Now researchers at the Ohio State University in America found regular consumption of tomatoes may protect against non-melanoma skin cancer.

For the study, the researchers conducted an experiment on mice. These mice were given 10 percent tomato powder in addition to their daily meal for nearly 35 weeks, and subsequently were exposed to UV rays.

They found, the mice that ate a daily diet of tomato powder experienced on average a 50% decrease in skin cancer tumors compared to mice that consumed no dehydrated tomato. Study co-author Dr Jessica Cooperstone added: “Foods are not drugs, but they can possibly, over the lifetime of consumption, alter the development of certain diseases.”

The team noticed no significant differences in tumor number for the female mice. “The study showed us that we do need to consider sex when exploring different preventative strategies,” said lead author Professor Tatiana Oberyszyn. “What works in men may not always work equally well in women and vice versa.”

In the past, human clinical trials showed that eating tomato paste over time can reduce sunburns, and the dietary carotenoids – which are pigmenting compounds that give tomatoes their color that got deposited in human skin after eating the paste may be responsible for protecting the skin against UV light damage, said Cooperstone.

“Lycopene, the primary carotenoid in tomatoes, has been shown to be the most effective antioxidant of these pigments,” she said.

“However, when comparing lycopene administered from a whole food (tomato) or a synthesized supplement, tomatoes appear more effective in preventing redness after UV exposure, suggesting other compounds in tomatoes may also be at play.”

The findings appear in the journal Scientific Reports.

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