Numerous studies have suggested that tomatoes have anti-cancer properties. A new study provides further evidence of this, after finding that whole tomato extract has the potential to treat and even prevent stomach cancer.
Researchers from the United States and Italy found that whole extracts from two varieties of tomato - San Marzano and Corbarino - blocked the growth of stomach cancer cells and dampened their malignant characteristics.
Study co-author Prof. Antonio Giordano, director of the Sbarro Institute for Molecular Medicine at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA, and colleagues recently reported their findings in the Journal of Cellular Physiology.
According to the American Cancer Society, there will be around 28,000 cases of stomach cancer diagnosed in the U.S. this year.
Also referred to as gastric cancer, stomach cancer is most common among older adults; around 60 percent of adults diagnosed with the disease are aged 65 or older.
However, Prof. Giordano and colleagues note that few studies have investigated the anti-cancer effects of whole tomatoes - a research gap they set out to address with their new study.
Growth of stomach cancer cells halted with whole tomato extracts
To reach their findings, the researchers tested the effects of whole extracts from San Marzano and Corbarino tomatoes on stomach cancer cell lines.
They found that each extract not only halted the growth of gastric cancer cells, but they also interfered with cell migration - whereby cancer cells begin to move away from the primary tumor to invade surrounding tissues - and led to cancer cell death.
Furthermore, the researchers found that the anti-cancer effects of the tomato extracts were not down to one particular compound.
"Their anti-tumoral effect seem not related to specific components, such as lycopene, but rather suggest that tomatoes should be considered in their entirety," says study co-author Daniela Barone, of the Oncology Research Center of Mercogliano in Italy.
According to the researchers, their findings indicate that whole tomato extracts may be useful for the prevention and treatment of stomach cancer.
"Our results prompt further assessment of the potential use of specific nutrients not only in the cancer prevention setting but also as a supportive strategy along with conventional therapies."
Prof. Antonio Giordano
The team notes that certain varieties of tomatoes may have different effects on cancer cells, something which future studies should investigate.