Eating Tomatoes Every Day Could Halve Your Skin Cancer Risk
Gazpacho? Good. Salsa? Good. Marinara? Good. There are so many tasty ways to squeeze a serving (or two) of tomatoes into your daily diet, and new research from the Ohio State University suggests you should in order to reduce your risk of developing skin cancer by half.
The study, which was published in Scientific Reports, tested the effects of consistent tomato consumption in male mice. Their diet was 10 percent tomato powder (dried red tomatoes) every day over the course of 35 weeks. The researchers then exposed the mice to ultraviolet light, mimicking the sun. The mice that ate all of the tomato matter had a 50 percent decrease in skin cancer tumors compared to the “control” mice who didn’t eat tomatoes every day.
While humans are obviously not equivalent to mice, previous research has touted the benefits of the carotenoids in tomatoes (what gives them their pretty color) as strong skin protectors from UV light damage. Lycopene is the main antioxidant at play here, and it’s abundant in tomatoes. But since whole food tomatoes prove more effective than a supplement of these nutrients, there’s something else about this fruit-veggie hybrid that makes it so vital to a healthy diet.
With that said, this study clearly had a few limitations, the first being the fact that it only analyzed mice. Additionally, in the female mice, there was no significant difference in tumor number when the tomato diet was introduced, which suggests that sex definitely plays a role in creating effective preventative strategies for cancer. And finally, the type of tomato consumed also mattered. The positive results were observed with red tomato powder, but not nearly as significantly with tangerine tomato powder.
Further research is certainly needed here to confirm just how much tomatoes can prevent skin cancer in humans, but it’s worth remembering that our food can have powerful medicinal effects when consumed in particular ways. And when it’s a food as enjoyable as tomatoes, well, that’s just a bonus.