A new study completed by The Ohio State University has shown that daily tomato consumption appeared to cut the development of skin cancer tumours in half. The study, which looked at skin cancer in male mice, examined how nutritional interventions can alter the risk for skin cancers and was published online in the Scientific Reports journal.
The study found that mice that were fed a diet that included a daily intake of tomatoes, experienced a 50 per cent decrease in skin cancer tumours compared to mice that ate no tomato.
Jessica Cooperstone is a research scientist from the Ohio Department of Food Science and Technology, and was a co-author of the study. Cooperstone says that the key to tomatoes cancer fighting properties could lie in the dietary carotenoids in tomatoes, which are what give tomatoes their colour. The theory is that these pigmenting compounds may also protect the skin against UV light damage.
Previous human clinical trials suggest that eating tomato paste over time can dampen sunburns, perhaps thanks to carotenoids from the plants that are deposited in the skin of humans after eating, and may be able to protect against UV light damage, Cooperstone said.
“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.”