The little red fruit wasn’t satisfied with just being a cure for hangover, a good source of vitamin C, and being great for your skin. It is known to be tackling cancer also. Is there anything that a humble tomato can’t do?
The Moruno tomato is touted to have twice the normal levels of a natural cancer-fighting substance and as much vitamin C as a small sized orange. It can be awarded to be the “super superfood”.
Scientists had studied in 2012 that a nutrient in cooked tomatoes had shown to slow the growth of- and even kill prostate cancer cells. Lycopene is an antioxidant compound that gives tomatoes and certain other fruits and vegetables their colour.
People who have diets rich in tomatoes, which contain lycopene, appear in some studies to have a lower risk of certain types of cancer, especially cancers of the prostate, lung, and stomach. However, not all of the studies have reached the same conclusion.
The effect of the nutrient lycopene on the elementary mechanism through which cancer cells hijack a body’s healthy blood supply to grow and spread.
They found lycopene to stop cancer’s ability of making 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.”
All red fruits contain lycopene, but its concentration is highest in tomatoes. It becomes more biologically active when the tomatoes are processed with a small amount of cooking oil. In the research, lycopene was observed to disrupt the linking process of cancer cells.
Cancer cells can remain dormant for years until their growth is triggered through the secretion of chemicals which initiate the process of linking cancer cells with endothelial cells which act as healthy gatekeeper cells lining blood vessels. This allows the cancer cells to reach out and attach to the blood supply. This procedure is known as the linking process of cancer cells.
The researchers explained that all cancer cells use a similar mechanism (angiogenesis) to ”feed” upon a healthy blood supply.
They said there was added importance of this mechanism for prostate cancer because lycopene tends to accumulate in prostate tissues.
”The important thing is for sufficient lycopene to reach where it can matter. We know that in case of prostate tissues it gets there.
”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.”
Smokers might have to consume more tomatoes that non-smokers in oreder to achieve the benefits of lycopene due to the presence of high oxidative stress in smokers.