By Vanessa Richins
New research from the universities of Manchester and Newcastle suggests there may be a new title to be awarded to tomatoes: Wrinkle and Skin Cancer Fighter.
In their study, subjects were given 5 tablespoons of tomato paste daily, along with 10 grams of olive oil. The control group was only given the olive oil. At the finish of the three month study, researchers took skin samples from the volunteers.
The results showed that the tomato eating group had developed 33% more protection from UV rays than the control group. They also had more procollagen, which creates skin structure and firmness.
The component responsible for the added protection was lycopene, an antioxidant already famous for reducing risks of many cancers, notably prostate cancer, and heart disease, along with other diseases. The lycopene levels are highest when the tomato has been cooked.
Researchers are optomistic for the future. Professor Lesley Rhodes, a dermatologist at the University of Manchester, says: “The tomato diet boosted the level of procollagen in the skin significantly. These increasing levels suggest potential reversal of the skin ageing process.” Perhaps more tomato-based cosmetics and skin care will be developed in the future.
However, caution is suggested. Do not stop using sunscreen just because you eat lots of tomatoes. Consider it an added defense. The levels of lycopene, while helpful in skin care, are not enough to fully ward off UV rays. As Professor Mark Birch-Machin of Newcastle University states: ” Eating tomatoes will not make you invincible in the sun, but it may be a useful addition to the sun protection tool box. ”