Over the years tomatoes have been touted as a healthful food that is good for us! Now a new study claims, the lush, red, juicy fruit can help slash the risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women.

Researchers theorize that the secret may lie in the antioxidant lycopene that makes tomatoes red. Lycopene helps neutralize the damaging free radicals in the body that are implicated in various kinds of malignancies.

The study found lycopene helps in regulating the hormones that control fat levels and sugar metabolism in body. As per the National Cancer Institute, obesity is considered the main culprit behind
breast cancer.

Lead study author, Adana Llanos, an assistant professor of Epidemiology at Rutger University stated, “The advantages of eating plenty of tomatoes and tomato-based products, even for a short period, were clearly evident in our findings. 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.”

A longitudinal cross-over study
In a bid to assess the breast cancer-fighting properties of tomatoes, the researchers conducted a longitudinal cross-over study. It involved 70
postmenopausal women (aged 55 and above) who were deemed at risk for breast cancer due to obesity and/or because an immediate family member had the malignancy.

As a part of the study, the women were asked to follow a tomato rich diet containing at least 25 milligrammes of lycopene daily for a period of 10 weeks. In the next 10-weeks the same participants consumed at least 40 grams of soy protein daily. Prior to the study, the women were instructed to abstain from tomatoes and soya for two weeks.

Revelations of the study
The researcher then evaluated the levels of adiponectin, a glucose-regulating hormone in the body known to play a role in the risk of breast cancer. The analysis revealed that a tomato rich diet increased the levels of adiponectin by nine percent. The effect was more pronounced in thinner women.

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

This study was published on December 18 in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

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