Get a Great Set of Tomatoes
You've heard of the anti-breast cancer slogan: "Save the ta-tas"? Well, a more on-target message might be "Savor the tomatoes". At least, that's what some recent research suggests.
For years, we've heard that tomatoes contain a potent natural antioxidant compound, lycopene, and that men should eat this natural substance in abundance to help protect them against prostate cancer and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a condition that's all-too-common among aging men. That's because increased consumption of tomatoes and other plant foods—such as watermelon, which are rich sources of lycopene—is associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer.
Well now women have a good reason to embrace America's favorite fruit, too. Increased consumption of lycopene is also associated with a reduced risk of developing breast cancer among postmenopausal women. Earlier this year, investigators looked at the consumption of tomatoes and tomato products among older women who had undergone the change of life. Researchers noted that, especially among women who were not obese, lycopene intake was associated with higher levels of a hormone, called adiponectin, that's thought to be protective against breast cancer.
Adiponectin is involved in regulating fat and sugar metabolism. Levels of this beneficial hormone tend to be higher in leaner individuals. In contrast, women with higher body fat percentages often have lower levels of adiponectin, and are at greater risk of developing breast cancer.
"The advantages of eating plenty of tomatoes and tomato-based products, even for a short period, were clearly evident in our findings," said the study's first author, Adana Llanos, PhD, MPH. "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." The findings also underscore the importance of maintaining a healthy body weight, as breast cancer risk invariably climbs with increasing body mass.
Llanos AA1, Peng J, et al. Effects of tomato and soy on serum adipokine concentrations in postmenopausal women at increased breast cancer risk: a cross-over dietary intervention trial.J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2014 Feb;99(2):625-32. doi: 10.1210/jc.2013-3222. Epub 2014 Jan 1.
Ilic D.Lycopene for the prevention and treatment of prostate disease.Recent Results Cancer Res. 2014;202:109-14. doi: 10.1007/978-3-642-45195-9_13.