It’s a known fact that there is an increased risk of developing cancer with certain unhealthy habits such as smoking, drinking, lack of exercise, fatty diets, etc. So it’s not surprising that certain foods can also prevent the development of cancer. Studies have found that some specific nutrients from food can increase the ability of our body to prevent cancer. According to the World Cancer Research, more than 30 % of cancer cases are avoidable simply by changing diet habits.
Needless to say, there are multiple researchers who have been studying the role of food in the prevention of cancer development. With increasing awareness regarding the harmful effects of smoking and drinking, there has been a gradual decline in many types of cancer in developed countries. Although most people have stopped these nasty habits, many have still continued on with unhealthy fatty diets that result in obesity, diabetes, heart attacks, cardiovascular disorders, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
Studying the role of Lycopene on cancer prevention
Recent research has focused on Lycopene, a pigment found in tomatoes and other reddish fruits and vegetables. Xiang-Dong Wang, a senior scientist and associate director of the Jean Mayer USDA Human Research Center on Aging at Tufts, recently published a study that analyzed the significance of lycopene-rich tomatoes in cancer prevention. The study performed experiments on mice by simulating a western diet on the mice from infancy. Each mouse was exposed to a liver carcinogen followed by an unhealthy fatty diet intake. The mice were also fed lycopene-rich tomato powder equivalent to the amount of 2-3 tomatoes per day for a human adult.
What is lycopene?
Lycopene is a naturally occurring red pigment that gives tomatoes and other red vegetables and fruits a reddish color.
The results of the study
The study results demonstrated significant prevention of fatty liver disease and subsequent development of liver cirrhosis in mice. According to Xiang-Dong Wang, lycopene enhances the number of healthy microbes and thus prevented inflammation by reducing the growth of inflammatory bacteria.
The study also discovered that natural sources of lycopene (tomatoes) to be more effective in preventing fatty liver than injections of lycopene pigment.
What is the next step?
The researchers aim to begin conducting human clinical trials. As there is no harm with a few tomatoes per day, it is safe to say you can begin incorporating some extra tomatoes into your diet to prevent liver disease.