A recent study revealed that tomatoes may stave off stomach cancer, giving people all the more reason to eat the succulent fruit. As part of the study, a team of international researchers from Italy and the U.S. analyzed the components of tomato extracts from two different Southern Italy cultivars — San Marzano and Corbarino varieties — and examined their ability to deal with various neoplastic features of gastric cancer cell lines. The study found that extracts from both tomato cultivars halted the growth and cloning behavior of malignant cells.
According to the research team, treatment with the whole tomato extracts induced negative effects on the malignant cells’ key processes, thus inhibiting the cells’ ability to migrate. The research team also noted that the treatment stopped cell cycle by modulating the retinoblastoma family proteins. This ultimately led to apoptosis (cell death), the scientists said.
“Our results showed a possible role of these two varieties of tomatoes against typical neoplastic features. The treatment with tomato extracts affected cancer cell ability to grow both in adherence and in semisolid medium, reducing also cell migration ability. No toxic effects were observed on non-tumoral cells. We found, on gastric cancer cell lines, effects on both cell cycle progression and apoptosis modulation. The extent of antineoplastic effects, however, did not seem to correlate with the carotenoid content and antioxidant activity of the two tomato varieties. Our data indicate that San Marzano and Corbarino intake might be further considered as nutritional support not only in cancer prevention, but also for cancer patient diet,” the researchers wrote in the Journal of Cellular Physiology.
Study author Daniela Barone noted that the effects did not appear to be related to specific anti-cancer components such as lycopene. The beneficial effects should be associated with the fruit’s entirety, the author added. The findings call for further research on the potential use of specific nutrients not only in cancer prevention but also as a complementary strategy to conventional cancer treatments, said researcher Professor Antonio Giordano. (Related: Here are 10 more reasons why tomato is beneficial)
Stomach cancer by the numbers
According to the World Cancer Research Fund International, stomach cancer is the fifth most common type of cancer around the world. The organization also noted that 952,000 new cases of stomach cancer were diagnosed in 2012 alone. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) also revealed that nearly 96,000 people in the U.S. developed stomach cancer in 2014. The institute also noted that the number of new stomach cancer cases across the country was 7.3 per 100,000 men and women per year, while the annual death rate was 3.2 per 100,000 men and women. The rate of five-year survival was only a little higher than 30 percent, the institute added.
In addition, the NCI revealed that stomach cancer is relatively rare in the U.S.. In fact, the disease ranked 15th among the most common cancer types across the country. Current figures also showed that the disease was more prevalent among older adults, affecting more than a quarter of seniors aged 65 to 74 years. However, cancer-related deaths were more common among seniors 75 to 84 years old. According to the latest statistics, the median age at death was 72 years old for these patients.
Furthermore, Asian/Pacific Islander men had the highest number of new stomach cancer cases, followed by American Indians/Alaska Natives, African Americans and Hispanics. In contrast, Hispanic women had the highest number of new cases, followed by American Indians/Alaska Natives, Asians/Pacific Islanders and African Americans.
Data from the American Cancer Society (ACS) also showed that about 28,000 new cases of stomach cancer were expected to be diagnosed in the U.S. this year. The ACS also projected that nearly 11,000 people will die of the disease in 2017.