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Tomatoes Hit the Headlines Again

A US researcher has reviewed the scientific literature and has concluded that the consumption of tomato and tomato products lowers the risk of cancer. It is currently very common for scientists to review many related studies and to carry out complex statistical analyses to observe trends that may not be evident in individual studies. Of course there are weakness in such an approach because very often the study design, the length of the study, the health and sex and age of subjects in the study and the parameters that were originally analysed may differ.


Dr. E. Giovannucci analysed data from 72 published studies and concluded that the consumption of tomato and tomato products is effective in reducing some but not all cancers. Dr. Giovannucci's review published in a recent edition of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute showed that in 79% of the studies, tomato intake reduced the risk of cancer. However, because of the differences in the experimental protocols it was not possible to say whether there was one particular component of tomatoes that was the active ingredient.

Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, the chemical responsible for the red colour; lycopene has been proposed as a possible anti-cancer agent. Lycopene is a member of the carotenoid family. Carotenoids of several types are also found in high quantities in tomatoes and these powerful antioxidants are believed by many to be important cancer prevention agents. Interestingly, both raw and cooked tomatoes appear to be equally effective in terms of cancer prevention, and the effect persists in processed tomato products.

Giovannucci’s article showed that the protective effect of tomatoes was most evident against prostrate cancer, lung cancer and stomach cancer, but pancreatic, colorectal, esophageal, oral, breast and cancer of the cervix may also be sensitive to tomato intake.

Tomato Facts
Botanical Name: Lycopersicon lycopersicum
Botanical Classification: tomatoes are a fruit
Tomato Storage:Never refrigerate a tomato that is not fully red or ripe
To Ripen Green Tomatoes: place green tomatoes on the floor with a ripe apple in the middle, cover with a newspaper
Nutritional Value:tomatoes are a good source of vitamin C, vitamin A and potassium


Edward Giovannucci, Tomatoes, Tomato-Based Products, Lycopene, and Cancer: Review of the Epidemiologic Literature

J Natl Cancer Inst 1999; 91: 317-331

External Link Index 1 -;91/4/317.pdf

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