A new study just published in the British Journal of Nutrition has found that a nutrient in cooked tomatoes slows the growth—and may even kill—prostate cancer cells.
Scientists found that lycopene, the nutrient that gives the tomato its red color, intercepts cancer’s ability to make the connections it needs to attach to a healthy blood supply.
”This simple chemical reaction was shown to occur at lycopene concentrations that can easily be achieved by eating processed tomatoes,” said Dr. Mridula Chopra of England’s University of Portsmouth, who led the study.
”I stress that our tests were done in test tubes in a laboratory and more testing needs to be carried out to confirm our findings,” Dr. Chopra cautioned. “But the laboratory evidence we have found is clear – it is possible to intercept the simple mechanism some cancer cells use to grow at concentrations that can be achieved by eating sufficient cooked tomatoes.”
The research was partly funded by Heinz, after the food manufacturer asked for more research to follow up earlier studies by the same researchers which showed a significant increase in lycopene levels in blood and semen samples after research subjects ate 400g (14 oz.) of processed tomatoes for two weeks.
”The important thing is for sufficient lycopene to reach where it can matter, Dr. Chopra said. “We know that in case of prostate tissues it gets there.”
”We have tested this in the labs but we don’t yet know if the same action will happen in the body.”
”Individuals will vary in how much lycopene their bodies make available to fight cancer cell growth and the ability of lycopene to ‘intercept’ in this way in the body is likely to vary between tomato products – both processing and cooking with fat have previously been shown to make lycopene more effective biologically.”
”The type of tomatoes which offer the most effective lycopene also differs and more tests need to be done to find the best breed of tomato for this purpose.”
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