S u m m a r y :
A daily tomato consumption lowers the development of skin cancer by 50% in lab rats, suggests a new study published in the journal Scientific Reports.
Tomatoes, A Medicine
We are what we eat, says the old saying. Perhaps, our food can also be our medicine. Or so indicates the new research from Ohio State University. The team behind this finding investigated the effect of nutritional intervention on the risk of skin cancers.
“Foods are not drugs, but they can possibly, over the lifetime of consumption, alter the development of certain diseases,” says study co-author Jessica Cooperstone.
Tomato’s Superpower Lies in its Colour
Why tomatoes, you ask. Cooperstone explains that carotenoids, the pigments accounting for the colour of tomatoes, are thought to potentially shield the skin from harmful ultraviolet (UV) light.
Based on this hypothesis, the scientists fed a group of mice a diet of 10% tomato powder—this went on everyday for 35 weeks. Then, these mice, together with another batch (the control group) which were not fed the tomato meals, were exposed to UV light. The results show that the males of the former group had a 50% decrease in skin cancers as opposed to the former.
Male Mice vs Female Mice
Additionally, female mice did not experience the differences in tumour number, an interesting finding that might help explain previous studies that indicate an earlier development of tumours in male mice exposed to UV; the males also, generally, have bigger, more aggressive, and a greater number of tumours.
This implies that sex needs to be considered when it comes to the different preventive measures to protect from cancer, says senior author Tatiana Oberyszyn. Some strategies might work for men and not for women, and vice versa.
Carotenoids in the Skin Do Wonders
Along similar lines, other studies have shown that consuming tomato paste can lead to the dampening of sunburns over the long term. According to Cooperstone, this might be the result of the deposit of carotenoids into human skin—which might be protecting from UV light damage.