Azara Blog: Tomato is allegedly beneficial for protecting against UV rays

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Date published: 2008/04/28

The BBC says:

Pizza and spaghetti bolognese could become new tools in the fight against sunburn and wrinkles, a study suggests.

A team found adding five tablespoons of tomato paste to the daily diet of 10 volunteers improved the skin's ability to protect against harmful UV rays.

Damage from these rays can lead to premature ageing and even skin cancer.

The study, presented at the British Society for Investigative Dermatology, suggested the antioxidant lycopene was behind the apparent benefit.

This component of tomatoes - found at its highest concentration when the fruit has been cooked - has already been linked to a reduction in the risk of prostate cancer.

Now researchers at the universities of Manchester and Newcastle have suggested it may also help ward off skin damage by providing some protection against the effects of UV rays.

They gave 10 volunteers around 55g of standard tomato paste - which contains high levels of cooked tomatoes - and 10g of olive oil daily. A further 10 participants received just the olive oil.

After three months, skin samples from the tomato group showed they had 33% more protection against sunburn - the equivalent of a very low factor sun cream - and much higher levels of procollagen, a molecule which gives the skin its structure and keeps its firm.

At least this was much better than most health studies, in that at least it seems to have used a random sample. But the sample size was small. And more importantly, it is not clear how much this would actually achieve in real health impact. And most importantly of all, it is only looking at one thing in isolation. No doubt almost every food on the face of the planet is probably good for something or other, and probably bad for something or other.

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