BIOMEDICS from the University of Portsmouth have discovered a nutrient in tomatoes that slows and even kills prostate cancer cells.
Dr Mridula Chopra and colleagues have run lab tests that show lycopene – which colours tomatoes red – stops the cancer’s ability to attach to a healthy blood supply.
And now they are calling for tests to see if the same reaction occurs in the human body.
Dr Chopra said: ‘We have tested this in the labs but we don’t yet know if the same action will happen in the body. The type of tomatoes which offer the most effective lycopene also differs and more tests need to be done to find the best breed of tomato for this purpose.’
Cancer cells can remain dormant for years until their growth is triggered through the secretion of chemicals which starts the process of linking cancer cells with healthy cells. In the lab experiments, lycopene was shown to disrupt this linking process.
Dr Chopra said: ‘The important thing is for sufficient lycopene to reach where it can matter. In the case of prostate tissues it gets there.’
The research was part-funded by Heinz after the same researchers found a significant increase in lycopene levels in blood and semen samples after subjects ate 400g of processed tomatoes for two weeks.