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Hoe-Hoe-Hoe Tomatoes To Fight Breast Cancer

December 25, 2013
Written by: , Filed in: Breast Imaging
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Here’s a Christmas-related story, sort of. Well, only in that it tangentially involves the color red, which is strongly associated with Christmas by virtue of being the color of Santa’s suit, Rudolph’s nose, and a great many hideous holiday sweaters.

A new study suggests that eating lots of tomatoes—which of course are usually, but not always, red—may reduce the risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women. Study subjects who ate lots of tomatoes every day for 10 weeks showed significant increases in levels of adiponectin, a hormone involved in regulating blood sugar and fat metabolism.

Other studies have indicated that high levels of adiponectin may decrease the risk of breast cancer in women who have entered menopause. The new research indicates that lycopene or some other nutrient in tomatoes may improve insulin sensitivity, according to Adana Llanos, PhD, lead author of the study:

The take-home message from our study’s preliminary findings is that the beneficial effects of a diet high in lycopene, specifically increasing adiponectin, may explain why tomatoes may be effective at reducing breast cancer risk.

Dr. Llanos is an assistant professor of epidemiology at Rutgers University School of Public Health. She was quoted by MedPage Today. The study was published online last week in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Leaner women received a larger boost of adiponectin. “The findings demonstrate the importance of obesity prevention,” Dr. Llanos said in a Rutgers news release. “Consuming a diet rich in tomatoes had a larger impact on hormone levels in women who maintained a healthy weight.”

Researchers also studied the effect of a 10-week diet rich in soy (and without tomatoes). That actually decreased adiponectin levels. The researchers had theorized that a soy-heavy diet might help explain why Asian women have lower rates of breast cancer than U.S. women. Apparently, the cause, or causes, lie elsewhere.

* * *

“For me, going into the health field is really a passion—it’s about serving others.” But how, exactly? The advice this young woman receives on the Skeptical Scalpel blog, and especially in the comments, reminds all of us about what’s important in life. For details, see our Facebook page.

You, our readers, are among the things that are very important in our lives. We wish you  a wonderful holiday season and an even better 2014.

Related CME seminar (up to 39.25 AMA PRA Category 1 credits™): Comprehensive Review of Breast Imaging


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