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Diet Rich in Tomatoes May Lower Breast Cancer Risk

By BiotechDaily International staff writers
Posted on 08 Jan 2014
A diet rich in tomatoes may help protect at-risk postmenopausal women from breast cancer, according to new research. Moreover, fruits were found to raise levels of hormone involved in regulating blood sugar and fat.

The new findings were published December 2013, online, ahead of print in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. Breast cancer risk increases in postmenopausal women as their body mass index climbs. The study’s researchers discovered that eating a diet high in tomatoes had a beneficial effect on the level of hormones that play a role in regulating fat and sugar metabolism. “The advantages of eating plenty of tomatoes and tomato-based products, even for a short period, were clearly evident in our findings,” said the study’s first author, Adana Llanos, PhD, MPH, who is an assistant professor of epidemiology at Rutgers University (New Brunswick, NJ, USA). “Eating fruits and vegetables, which are rich in essential nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals such as lycopene, conveys significant benefits. Based on these 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.”

The longitudinal crossover research studied the effects of both tomato-rich and soy-rich diets in a group of 70 postmenopausal women. The women ate tomato products containing at least 25 mg of lycopene daily for 10 weeks. For a separate 10-week period, the participants consumed at least 40 g of soy protein daily. Before each test period began, the women were instructed to not eat both tomato and soy products for two weeks.

When they ate the tomato-rich diet, participants’ levels of adiponectin, a hormone involved in controlling blood sugar and fat levels, climbed 9%. The effect was slightly stronger in women who had a lower body mass index. “The findings demonstrate the importance of obesity prevention,” Dr. Llanos said. “Consuming a diet rich in tomatoes had a larger impact on hormone levels in women who maintained a healthy weight.”

The soy diet was tied to a decrease in study participants’ adiponectin levels. Researchers first hypothesized that a diet containing large amounts of soy could be part of the reason that Asian women have lower rates of breast cancer than women in the United States, but any beneficial effect may be limited to specific ethnic groups, according to Dr. Llanos.

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