No single food or food substances can protect you against cancer.
But scientists believe that the right combination of foods in
a predominantly plant-based diet may. Evidence is mounting that
the minerals, vitamins and phytochemicals in plant foods interact
to provide extra cancer protection. This concept is called synergy.
In addition, vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans are
low-energy-dense, low calorie foods and probably protect against
weight gain. According to the Second Expert Report, experts
believe that weight gain – particularly obesity and overweight
– are implicated in the development of cancer. Eating a predominantly
plant based diet can help prevent weight gain and therefore
protect against those cancers whose risk is convincingly increased
by higher body fat (namely cancers of the colorectum, esophagus,
endometrium, pancreas, kidney, and breast in postmenopausal
women). That is why AICR recommends that at least 2/3 of your
plate should be filled with vegetables, fruit, whole grains
The tomato’s red hue comes chiefly from a phytochemical called
lycopene. Tomatoes have attracted particular attention
from prostate cancer researchers because lycopene and its related
compounds tend to concentrate in tissues of the prostate.
AICR's second expert report, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and
the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective, found substantial
and convincing evidence that foods containing lycopene probably protect
against prostate cancer.
In animal models, consumption of tomato compounds has been
linked to large decreases in prostate cancer risk. Moreover, there
is evidence that this cancer-fighting potential is increased if tomatoes
are consumed in a processed form that allows these natural compounds
to be released and more easily absorbed, such as tomato sauce, tomato
paste or tomato juice.
Lycopene, a powerful antioxidant, together with a group of related
compounds collectively called the “red family,” has displayed
anti-cancer potential in a variety of laboratory studies.
In the laboratory, tomato components have stopped the proliferation
of several other cancer cells types, including breast, lung, and endometrial.
Although the evidence suggests it is likely that foods containing
lycopene, including tomatoes, offer cancer protection, AICR stresses
the importance of eating
a variety of plant foods to ensure the most protection against
cancer development. No food in isolation can effectively lower cancer
AICR has funded research on the following topics relating to tomatoes
and the cancer-fighting components they contain. Click each topic
to search for relevant AICR-funded research studies performed to date.
the full list of AICR’s Recommendations for Cancer Prevention.