Eating a diet rich in tomatoes reduced skin cancer development by 50 percent in mice, according to a new study by The Ohio State University. The research highlights how nutritional interventions may modify the risk for skin cancers.
The research was conducted by Tatiana Oberyszyn, a professor of pathology at The Ohio State University in Columbus, co-author Jessica Cooperstone, a research scientist in the Department of Food Science and Technology in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at the university, and their colleagues. Their findings were published in the journal Scientific Reports.
Unprotected sun exposure is a major risk factor for skin cancer. Keratinocyte carcinoma (KC) skin cancer is the most common cancer, with 5.4 million new cases diagnosed in 2012. Basal cell carcinomas account for around 80 percent of KC cases, and around 20 percent of cases are squamous cell carcinomas.
Alternative methods of protection against skin cancer have been investigated, with protection using nutritional interventions being a potential candidate for modulating skin cancer risk.
Previous evidence has shown that consuming tomato paste may reduce sunburn, and that dietary carotenoids – which are “pigmenting compounts that give tomatoes their color” – left behind in human skin after eating the paste may be responsible for its protective effect against ultraviolet (UV) light damage.
“Lycopene, the primary carotenoid in tomatoes, has been shown to be the most effective antioxidant of these pigments,” says Cooperstone.
Other research indicates that lycopene intake from eating a tomato in its whole food form is more effective at preventing sunburn than lycopene administered from a synthesized supplement.
This suggests that other compounds in tomatoes may contribute to the overall effect.
Tomato-fed mice had lower skin cancer risk
The new study aimed to determine whether consuming the tangerine or red variety of tomatoes would significantly reduce skin cancer tumors in male and female mice that had been chronically exposed to UV light.
No significant difference in the number of tumors were identified in the female mice in the study, the researchers say.
However, the team found that when male mice were fed a 10 percent tomato powder diet every day for 35 weeks and then exposed to UV light, they experienced a 50 percent reduction in skin cancer tumors when compared with the control group of mice that were fed no tomato.
SOURCE: MEDICAL NEWS TODAY