Lycopene, the primary carotenoid in tomatoes, may be able to protect skin against UV light damage.
Lycopene, the primary carotenoid in tomatoes, may be able to protect skin against UV light damage.

Tomatoes May Cut Skin Cancer Development

Tomatoes May Cut Skin Cancer Development

Daily tomato consumption appeared to cut the development of skin cancer tumors by half in a mouse study at The Ohio State University.
The new study of how nutritional interventions can alter the risk for skin cancers appeared online in the journal Scientific Reports, Medical Xpress reported.
It found that male mice fed a diet of 10% tomato powder daily for 35 weeks, then exposed to ultraviolet light, experienced, on average, a 50% decrease in skin cancer tumors compared to mice that ate no dehydrated tomato.
There were no significant differences in tumor number for the female mice in the study. Previous research has shown that male mice develop tumors earlier after UV exposure and that their tumors are more numerous, larger and more aggressive.
“This study showed us that we do need to consider sex when exploring different preventive strategies,” said the study’s senior author, Tatiana Oberyszyn, a professor of pathology and member of Ohio State’s Comprehensive Cancer Center.
“What works in men may not always work equally well in women and vice versa.”   
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, said study co-author Jessica Cooperstone from the Ohio State University.
“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.”
Cooperstone is currently researching tomato compounds other than lycopene that may impart health benefits.
Non-melanoma skin cancers are the most common of all cancers, with more new cases—5.4 million in 2012—each year than breast, prostate, lung and colon cancers combined, according to the American Cancer Society.
Despite a low mortality rate, these cancers are costly, disfiguring, and their rates are increasing, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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