While no eating method can promise 100 percent protection from breast cancer, it’s increasingly clear that breast cancer prevention and diet go hand in hand, thanks to the right foods’ incredible ability to heal and protect our bodies from disease.
The latest cancer-fighting superfood? The much-loved tomato, thanks to the fruit’s ability to raise levels of a hormone known to help regulate blood sugar and fat.
The study, appearing in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, explains that as a postmenopausal woman ages, her body mass index tends to climb, a clear breast cancer risk factor. In the latest study, though, researchers from Rutgers University found that eating a diet high in tomatoes helped promote better fat regulation and sugar metabolism, keeping women’s body mass index out of the danger zone.
“The advantages of eating plenty of tomatoes and tomato-based products, even for a short period, were clearly evident in our findings,” says study author, Adana Llanos, PhD, MPH, assistant professor of epidemiology at Rutgers University. “Eating fruits and vegetables, which are rich in essential nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals such as lycopene, conveys significant benefits. Based on this 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 study looked at women eating tomato-rich diets and found that those who ate at least 25 milligrams of lycopene daily for 10 weeks saw a healthy bump in adiponectin, a hormone involved with regulating blood sugar and fat levels. In fact, levels rose 9 percent on average. Interestingly, a high-soy diet actually lowered levels of the fat-fighting, sugar-stabilizing hormone.
Some tips for tomato lovers:
• Always choose organic. Pesticide residue testing has found 5 types of known or probable carcinogens, along with 16 suspected hormone-disrupting chemicals, on nonorganic tomato samples.
• Opt for fresh tomatoes versus store-bought canned. Most cans in the supermarket are lined with bisphenol A, or BPA, a hormone-disrupting chemical actually linked to breast cancer.
• Grow your own. If you have a garden, try growing heirloom tomato varieties. These are types of tomatoes that have been passed down over the years because of their exquisite taste. Growing heirloom seeds also helps preserve genetic diversity in the vegetable world. (Look to places like Seed Savers Exchange for organic heirloom tomato seeds.)