More Credit For Cancer Prevention Heaped On The Lowly Tomato!
Preventing cancer is better and easier than curing it. Tomato products can help, according to evidence recently presented at a New York symposium!
It’s the lycopene that does it. A member of the carotenoid family, lycopene is a vitamin-like substance in tomatoes that gives them their red color. It’s an even more powerful antioxidant than beta carotene, its famous relative.
Population studies reported in the UC Berkley Wellness Letter show that people who eat lots of lycopene-rich foods have a lower risk of prostate cancer, as well as cancer of the cervix, skin, bladder, breast, lung, and digestive tract.
Lycopene stimulates the immune system to do battle with cancer cells before they get a foothold in the body. As an antioxidant, it helps to block the destructive effects of free radicals, especially when there is enough vitamin E available. It interferes with the growth factor that causes cancer cells to multiply.
About 85% of lycopene in the U.S. comes from tomato products. Watermelon, pink grapefruit, papaya, and guava also have small amounts. Processed tomatoes in sauce, puree, juice and catsup, or cooked tomatoes have two to eight times as much available lycopene as raw tomatoes. Processing makes it easier to be absorbed.
Lycopene is fat-soluble. That means you absorb more of it if you eat a little fat like olive oil at the same time.
In addition to lycopene and vitamin C, tomatoes have coumaric and cholorgenic acids, antioxidants that block the effects of cancer-causing nitrosamines found in cigarette smoke and preserved meats.