Tomato supplementation linked to slashed skin cancer risk: Mouse data

By Tim Cutcliffe

- Last updated on GMT

© iStock
© iStock

Related tags Cancer

Daily supplementation with tomato extract could help lower skin cancer rates, a new mouse study suggests.

The development of non-melanoma type skin cancers observed in male mice exposed to ultraviolet-ß (UVB) light was 50% lower in those that were fed a diet of 10% dehydrated tomato powder compared with controls, said the team behind the study.

“Male mice that consumed tomato-containing diets developed fewer UVB-induced skin tumours compared to male mice that did not consume tomatoes,” ​concluded co-author Jessica Cooperstone from the Department of Food Science and Technology at Ohio State University.

The observed benefits, published in Scientific Reports, ​were gender-specific, with female mice displaying no significant reduction in tumour occurrence.

"This study showed us that we do need to consider sex when exploring different preventive strategies,"​ said senior author, Professor Tatiana Oberyszyn, from Ohio State's Wexner Medical Centre.

"What works in men may not always work equally well in women and vice versa,"​ she added.

Previous animal studies have shown that male mice exposed to UVB light, develop tumours earlier than females, and that their tumours are larger, more numerous and more aggressive.

The gender-specific results may be due to lower antioxidant levels in males, together with increased oxidative DNA damage in the skin, and higher levels of cells involved in immune suppression and cancer metastasis, speculate the researchers.

‘Non-melanoma’ tumours

The type of tumours observed in this study are called keratinocyte tumours (KCs); more commonly known as basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers. These respective sub-types make up about 80% and 20% of total KCs and are non-melanoma type tumours. KCs are the most common of all cancers according to the American Cancer Society. Although generally non-fatal, KCs are disfiguring and costly to treat.

Sunburn protection

Previous human research indicates that prolonged tomato consumption might alleviate sunburn. This raised the question of whether such intake might have a cancer-protective effect.

 “Previous human clinical trials suggest that eating tomato paste over time can dampen sunburns, perhaps thanks to carotenoids from the plants that are deposited in the skin of humans after eating, and may be able to protect against UV light damage,”​ Cooperstone said.

"Lycopene, the primary carotenoid in tomatoes, has been shown to be the most effective antioxidant of these pigments,"​ she continued.

"However, when comparing lycopene administered from a whole food (tomato) or a synthesized supplement, tomatoes appear more effective in preventing redness after UV exposure, suggesting other compounds in tomatoes may also be at play."


These other compounds may include tomatidine, an alkaloid previously shown to have anti-cancer properties during in vitro ​cell studies. This study verified the presence of tomatidine in the skins of mice fed a tomato diet, while absent in controls.

This represents the first report of derivatives of tomato glycoalkaloids in vivo, as these compounds were previously thought to not be absorbed,” ​commented Cooperstone.

She suggested that result merited additional studies, “investigating the role that role that tomatoes and tomato phytochemicals play in the mediation of keratinocyte carcinomas.”

Further research could lead to possible nutritional interventions to reduce the risk for skin-related diseases, Cooperstone envisaged.

Source: Scientific Reports
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-05568-7
“Tomatoes protect against development of UV-induced keratinocyte carcinoma via metabolomic alterations”
Authors: Jessica L. Cooperstone, Tatiana M. Oberyszyn  et al

Related news

Related products

show more

New clinical data for CERAMOSIDES™ and SEPITONE™

New clinical data for CERAMOSIDES™ and SEPITONE™

Content provided by Seppic | 12-Jun-2024 | Product Brochure

Seppic is thrilled to announce new clinical results on CERAMOSIDES™, its blockbuster wheat lipidic extract. The ingredient is now supported by 5 clinical...

Related suppliers

1 comment

Let's hear it for tomatoes!

Posted by Marc,

Great article, which tells us one of the true causes of skin cancer: the lack of colorful fruits and vegetables in the diet. If we eat large quantities of tomatoes or other vegetables, we are protected. And we must have our sun exposure! Being in the sunlight, without burning, is essential to health. Here are facts—positive facts about sun exposure and health:

Increased sun exposure is not the reason for increased melanoma! Outdoor work has decreased by 90% in the last century, while melanoma has increased by 3,000%. It is not sun exposure that causes health problems; it is sun deprivation. The latest research shows that sunscreen use is leading to widespread vitamin D deficiency, and sun deprivation, not sun exposure, is leading to 336,000 deaths yearly. There has also been an 8,300% increase in vitamin D deficiency in children since 2000, which is likely due to insufficient time playing outdoors and/or sunscreen use. So you see, all of this artificial "protection" may be fatal. Here are more facts you should know about the importance of your friend, the Sun.
•A 20-year Swedish study shows that sun avoidance is as bad for the health as cigarette smoking.
•A Spanish study shows that women who seek the sun have one-eleventh the hip-fracture risk as those who avoid sun.
•Men who work outdoors have half the risk of melanoma as those who work indoors.
•Women who avoid the sun have 10-times the risk of breast cancer as those who embrace the sun.
•Women who sunbathe regularly have half the risk of death during a 20-year period compared to those who stay indoors.
•Sun exposure increases nitric oxide production, which leads to a decrease in heart disease risk.
•Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, is essential to human survival, and sun exposure is the only natural way to obtain it. Sunbathing can produce up to 20,000 units of vitamin D in 20 minutes of whole-body exposure around noon.
•Sun exposure dramatically improves mood through the production of serotonin and endorphin.
• Sun exposure increases the production of BDNF, which is vital to human health.
For references and articles:

Report abuse

Follow us


View more