The humble tomato is always a valuable addition to any meal, and is widely used in Australia for everything from spaghetti Bolognese to a side salad. The health benefits of tomatoes are many and varied – they contain high amounts of vitamin C, carotenes and potassium. They also contain phytonutrients that can fight cancer…
Lycopene is one of the most potent antioxidants known, and is found in large amounts in tomatoes. It helps to remove free radicals from the body, protecting cells and DNA from being damaged or becoming cancerous.
Lycopene and prostate cancer
Prostate cancer is the most common type of malignant growth in the Western world and the second leading cause of mortality. Much time and money has been poured into investigating the potential benefits of lycopene for prostate cancer sufferers, mainly because of its extremely high antioxidant activity. Studies have found that the lycopene has a negative effect on cancer cell growth, through reduction of cell multiplication, and increased apoptosis (cell death).
Researchers have also discovered that low prostate lycopene levels may be indicative of prostate cancer risk, further underlining why a good intake of tomatoes in the diet is important.
Lycopene is also beneficial in the treatment of other types of cancer too, including: melanoma (skin cancer), liver, breast and ovarian cancer. It prevents cancer cell proliferation and growth, increases programmed cell death and is able to interrupt the cell life cycle at various points.
Fortunately, tomatoes are one of the easiest foods to prepare fresh and are widely available. Even better, they are easy to grow in your own backyard, so you can have them on hand whenever you need them!
Key words: Cancer, prostate cancer, antioxidant, lycopene
Soares, N.C et al. Influence of lycopene on cell viability, cell cycle and apoptosis of human prostate cancer and benign hyperplastic cells. Nutr Cancer. 2013;65(7):1076-85
 Mariani, S et al. Low prostate concentration of lycopene is associated with development of prostate cancer in patients with high grade prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia. Int J Mol Sci. 2014 Jan 21;15(1):1433-40