Eating Tomatoes Daily May Cut Skin Cancer Risk By Half

You’ve heard it a gazillion times that health benefits of eating fresh tomatoes are plenty. A versatile fruit that acts like a vegetable contains all four major carotenoids loaded with numerous health properties. Now a new study is giving fresh reason to add tomatoes to your everyday meals.

If you didn’t know already, tomatoes are the outstanding dietary source of the antioxidant lycopene, which has been known to reduce risk of heart disease and cancer. Lycopene is one of the four major carotenoids in tomatoes. The other three are alpha- and beta-carotene and lutein.

As per a recent study by researchers at the Ohio State University in America, regular consumption of tomatoes may lessen the risk of skin cancer.

Tomatoes have long been touted for their skin-protective effects, protecting the skin from harmful ultraviolet rays and fighting against free radicals to delay the aging of the skin. The new study adds to this growing evidence, revealing that this nutritious red color vegetable cum fruit protects the skin from cancer attacks.

To reach their findings, experts from the Ohio State University in America carried out an experiment using a male mouse model. They gave mice 10 percent tomato powder added to their regular diet for nearly 35 weeks. These mice were then exposed to UV rays.

The researchers found that the mice that fed a daily diet of tomato powder reduced their chances of skin cancer tumour formation by an astounding 50 percent. The research team hypothesised that compounds responsible for tomatoes’ bright red colour may protect against deadly damage from the sun’s harmful rays, reducing the chances of skin cancer.

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.”
Surprisingly, this association between regular consumption of tomatoes and reduced risk of skin cancer was only true for male mice, as the research found no differences between the female groups.

“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.”

British Skin Foundation spokesperson, Dr Rachel Abbott, welcomed the study findings but said more research is needed to solidify the said link. “This is an interesting laboratory study in mice, however further research is needed to determine whether the same effect is applicable to humans,” Dr. Abbott said. “Most skin cancers are caused by sun exposure and so I would advise taking care in the sun, especially if you fair skinned, rather than eating more tomatoes.”

The research is published in the journal Scientific Reports.