Tomatoes Found to Help Maintain Weight, Prevent Breast Cancer


tomatoesLikely thanks to various nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals such as lycopene, a diet rich in tomatoes may be able to help reduce a woman’s risk of obesity and developing breast cancer, according to new research to be published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

When it comes to preventing cancer, study after study has suggested we eat more vegetables. Vegetables are loaded with compounds like antioxidants that are known to protect the cells from cancerous changes. In many cases, scientists aren’t clear on how the vegetables are able to protect us, merely that they are. The recent study, however, found one way in which tomatoes may be helping to prevent cancer.

The research comes to us from Rutgers and Ohio State Universities, where scientists looked at how diets rich in tomatoes affected hormone levels in post-menopausal women.

“The advantages of eating plenty of tomatoes and tomato-based products, even for a short period, were clearly evident in our findings,” said lead author, Adana Llanos, PhD, MPH, Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at Rutgers University. “Eating fruits and vegetables, which are rich in essential nutrients, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals such as lycopene, conveys significant benefits. Based on this data, we believe regular consumption of at least the daily recommended servings of fruits and vegetables would promote breast cancer prevention in an at-risk population.”

For the study, 70 post-menopausal women were given a diet rich in tomatoes for a period of 10 weeks. The women received at least 25 milligrams of lycopene each day.
Lycopene is a carotenoid, a powerful substance that’s credited with many of the health benefits of tomatoes.

Read: 5 Breast Cancer Prevention Tips

After the 10 week period, the women had increased levels of adiponectin—a hormone “involved in regulating blood sugar and fat levels”. The production of this hormone increased a significant 9%.

The effect was slightly stronger in women who maintained a healthy weight.

When you add to this equation that obesity is a risk factor for breast cancer and other forms of cancer, you can see how lycopene may play a role in hormone regulation that helps stave off cancer.

“The findings demonstrate the importance of obesity prevention,” Llanos said. “Consuming a diet rich in tomatoes had a larger impact on hormone levels in women who maintained a healthy weight.”

In addition to looking at tomatoes, the researchers also tested the women on a soy diet, believing they may find increased adiponectin in a soy-based diet. This could help explain why Asian women have much lower rates of breast cancer than women in the U.S. But, their study didn’t reflect this—adiponectin in the women eating soy actually decreased 9%, suggesting the lower rate of cancer among Asian populations is attributed to something else entirely.

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