Eating more lycopene-rich foods, particularly tomatoes, may help protect against risk of developing kidney cancer, a new study says.
Lycopene is a chemical found in red coloured fruits and vegetables, including carrots, tomato and watermelon.
The study followed 92,000 postmenopausal women enrolled in the Women's Health Initiative study, from 1990 to 2013. At the beginning of the study, the participants completed health questionnaires that mainly focused on the women's nutrient intake and supplements, Live Science reported.
Of the total, nearly 383 women developed kidney cancer. Interestingly, consumption of more lycopene rich foods was associated with lowered risk of kidney cancer. Women who received highest amount of lycopene, mainly through eating four tomatoes per day, had 45 percent lowered risk of developing kidney cancer compared to women who had lowest levels of the nutrient in their diet.
"The amount of lycopene in the diet of the women who consumed lycopene at the highest level in the study would be equal to eating four tomatoes daily," study researcher Dr Won Jin Ho, a medical resident at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio, told Live Science. "However, it's likely that the women received lycopene not just from tomatoes, but also from tomato sauces and other fruits that contain lycopene," he added.
Findings of the study were presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Clinical Oncology in Chicago, last week.
Similar to the current study, many studies in the past have revealed several health benefits associated with lycopene rich foods.
A 2012 study by Harvard Medical School found that lycopene foods reduce risk of stroke. Dr Edward Giovannucci, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health recommends 10,000 micrograms of lycopene through eating tomatoes and other foods. Another study published last year linked lycopene to improved fertility in men.
Research shows that lycopene supplements have been widely used to prevent heart disease, atherosclerosis, cancer (breast, colon, bladder, lung, ovaries, prostate and pancreas) and for treating asthma, cataracts and human papilloma virus (HPV) infection, according to Medline Plus.
It is estimated that nearly 1,00,000 people around the world die from the cancer that starts from the tissues of kidneys. In 2012, about 3,38,000 new cases of kidney cancers were reported. While renal cell carcinoma is one of the most common types of cancer found among adults, Wilms' tumour affects mostly children. Hypertension, obesity, smoking and ageing are some factors linked to the deadly cancer.
Following are some foods rich in lycopene:
- Red Cabbage
- Red Pepper
- Rose Hips