Study Suggests Tomatoes May Help Prevent Cancer

A study conducted on mice has found that consuming dried tomato reduces skin cancer tumors by half. The study has exciting potential implications for cancer prevention in humans.

Skin cancer is one of the most common forms in the United States. The American Cancer Society reports that there are more cases of non-melanoma skin cancer each year than the number of breast, prostate, colon, and lung cancers combined. While non-melanoma skin cancer is not often deadly, it brings pain, expense, and in some cases disfigurement. It is little wonder that scientists have been researching ways to combat it.

A new study published in the journal Scientific Reports found that dried red tomato has a drastic effect on the formation of skin cancer tumors. In the study, mice were fed a diet containing 10 percent tomato powder for 35 weeks. Later, they were exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light, which causes cancer, but the male mice saw 50% fewer tumors than mice without the dried tomato in their diet. In female mice, there was no significant difference in numbers of tumors. Some mice were fed tangerine tomatoes, and they did exhibit fewer tumors than the control group, but this result was not statistically significant.

The difference in results between sexes suggests that cancer formation and treatment can vary across populations. Previous research has indicated that male mice develop more aggressive, larger tumors more quickly.

The Tomato Connection

Jessica Cooperstone, co-author and research scientist in the Department of Food Science and Technology in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at Ohio State, explained the possible connection between eating tomato and lower rates of tumor development: it is thought that dietary carotenoids, which give tomatoes their red color, could help guard skin from damage inflicted by UV light. Carotenoids are deposited in the skin after eating, and they may shield the mice from the harmful effects of UV.

There is reason to believe that the results of this study will help prevent or treat cancer in humans: previous studies have indicated that eating tomato paste can reduce the damage of sunburns. This suggests that the storage of carotenoids in the skin may work in humans much like it does in mice.

The difference in results across the sexes suggests that “we do need to consider sex when exploring different preventive strategies” even in humans, Cooperstone said. “What works in men may not always work equally well in women and vice versa.”

Further, Cooperstone noted that there may be more researched to be done on the healing properties of tomatoes: “Lycopene, the primary carotenoid in tomatoes, has been shown to be the most effective antioxidant of these pigments,” she said. “However, when comparing lycopene administered from a whole food (tomato) or a synthesized supplement, tomatoes appear more effective in preventing redness after UV exposure, suggesting other compounds in tomatoes may also be at play.”

Future studies will investigate exactly which compounds best combat skin cancer, and the results could eventually inform new cancer treatments. As such a ubiquitous and deadly disease, the more information that can be gleaned on how to properly treat and fight cancer, the better for the future health of our society at large. Cancer is one of the top killers in our current day and age; any information that thwarts that rise is crucial.

 

Is There A New Approach For Treating Skin Cancer?

University of California, Irvine molecular biologists and their colleagues have identified an effective way to combat metastatic melanoma using new and innovative immune-therapeutic approaches. Led by Alexander D. Boiko, UCI assistant professor of molecular biology & biochemistry at the Ayala School of Biological Sciences and the Sue and Bill Gross Stem Cell Center, the researchers discovered that blocking the cell surface protein, CD47 – known as a “don’t eat me” signal – on melanoma cells, increased the degree by which these cells were phagocytosed or “eaten” by macrophages.

The team further discovered that blocking CD47 in combination with targeting a second cell surface protein, CD271, previously found to be expressed on melanoma initiating cells, resulted in virtually complete inhibition of metastases arising from human melanoma tumors transplanted in mice. The full study appeared in the Aug. 9 in Cell Reports.

The Findings

The cell surface protein CD47 was found to be overexpressed by metastatic melanomas, which helps them avoid being eliminated by the organism’s immune system. CD271, on the other hand, had been previously shown by Boiko to mark a cell population in melanomas responsible for tumor initiation and metastatic spread of this aggressive cancer. For the current study, Boiko and his team conjectured that metastatic melanomas relied on the overexpression of both proteins to fool the immune system and spread to other areas of the body.

To test this hypothesis, Boiko and his colleagues used specific blocking antibodies against CD47 – to activate macrophage phagocytosis – and CD271 – to selectively target the most aggressive melanoma cell population. When mice bearing human metastatic melanomas were treated with this antibody regimen, researchers discovered that simultaneous application of antibodies against CD47 and CD271 resulted in near complete elimination of metastasis from all organs of experimental mice. Boiko’s group has further discovered that this therapeutic effect was mediated by profound alteration of the microenvironment surrounding the tumors, causing immune cells to fight cancer more effectively.

“Further research is needed to determine the full anti-metastatic properties of the dual CD47/CD271 antibody therapy and the safety of its application in human patients,” Boiko said. “However, combining this therapy with other emerging treatments that also modulate the immune system represents a new approach that may offer increased benefit against metastatic melanomas. These are very exciting times for the cancer immunotherapy field and we are aiming to add an important component to this type of treatment, which will hopefully translate into a more effective outcome for patients.”

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Have You Heard Of The Sunscreen Gene?

skin-cancerA recent USC-led study – published in Molecular Cell – has identified a “sunscreen” gene that may help stave off skin cancer. The researchers found that the “UV Radiation Resistance Associated Gene” is a tumor suppressor for skin cancer, which is the most common form of cancer in the United States. Melanoma is the deadliest skin cancer. In fact, melanoma rates have doubled over the last three decades, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 90 percent of melanoma skin cancers develop because of cell damage from exposure to UV radiation. Melanoma kills about 10,130 people annually, according to the American Cancer Society.

“If we understand how this UV-resistant gene functions and the processes by which cells repair themselves after ultraviolet damage, then we could find targets for drugs to revert a misguided mechanism back to normal conditions,” says Chengyu Liang, the study’s senior author and an associate professor of molecular microbiology and immunology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

“People who have the mutated UV-resistant gene or low levels of the UV-resistant gene may be at higher risk of melanoma or other skin cancers, especially if they go sunbathing or tanning frequently,” Liang said. “Our study suggests that the UV-resistant gene may serve as a biomarker for skin cancer prevention.”

Increased Risk For Developing Skin Cancers

The researchers used data from 340 melanoma patients who participated in The Cancer Genome Atlas. The study also included two experimental groups with either reduced levels of the UV-resistant gene or a mutant copy of that gene in melanoma cells and 50 fly eyes. The control groups were melanoma cells or fly eyes with normal copies of the UV-resistant gene.

The scientists gave a UV shot to cells carrying the normal UV-resistant gene and cells carrying defective copies of it. After 24 hours, cells carrying normal versions of the gene had repaired more than 50 percent of the UV-induced damage. In contrast, the defective samples repaired less than 20 percent of the damaged cells.

“That means when people sunbathe or go tanning, those who have the normal UV-resistant gene can repair most UV-induced DNA burns in a timely manner, whereas those with the defective UV-resistant gene will have more damage left unrepaired,” Liang said. “After daily accumulation, if they sunbathe or go tanning often, these people will have increased risk for developing skin cancers such as melanoma.”

The researchers were able to show a correlation with increased cancer risk. Their study did not definitively say diminished levels or mutant copies of the UV-resistant gene were causes for skin cancer development.

The UV-Resistant Gene

Scientists first discovered the UV-resistant gene nearly two decades ago in relation to a disease called Xeroderma Pigmentosum, which makes people extremely sensitive to sunlight and puts them at high risk for developing skin cancer. Scientists did not examine the function of the UV-resistant gene in people who are healthy or who have skin cancer.

The USC-led team has now identified what the UV-resistant gene does and how it operates in a general population, said Yongfei Yang, lead author and a research associate at Keck Medicine of USC.

“The UV-resistant gene is a tumor suppressor involved in the UV-repair process of a cell’s DNA and is essential for preventing UV-induced genomic instability,” Yang said. “When the UV-resistant gene is lost, the cell cannot efficiently repair UV and chemical-induced damage.”

The UV-resistant gene is involved in the multistep DNA cell-repair process, researchers found. First a known protein scans for damaged DNA. Once it finds lesions, it tags the UV-resistant gene into action. The UV-resistant gene is like a humanitarian convoy dropping off reinforcements or aid to help damaged areas repair at precisely the right time.

The researchers did not have data from people without skin cancer, so they were unable to compare their observations of melanoma patients with those of skin cancer-free people. “We found the expression level of the UV-resistant gene is related to melanoma patients’ survival and metastasis stages,” Yang said. “Lower levels of the UV-resistant gene means a lower survival rate and advanced metastases stages.”

A Good Target

UV exposure, frequent trips to the tanning salon and genetics all play a role in developing skin cancer. Studies have shown, for example, that redheads are more prone to skin cancer because of their genetic background. Liang, Yang and their colleagues have identified a new player in the skin cancer field.

“To our knowledge, the UV-resistant gene does not have any enzymic activity; it’s a supporter or coordinator,” Liang said. “Although it may not be the direct doer, without it, the whole structure collapses.”

Future studies will use mouse models to better understand how the UV-resistant gene functions. “The UV-resistant gene may serve as a good target for drug development,” Yang said. “Perhaps one day a drug could stimulate the repairing functionality of the UV-resistant gene to ensure swift and effective repair of UV-damaged skin cells. That would be a good treatment for people who are at high risk of developing skin cancer.”

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Can Women Sunbathers Live Longer Than Those Avoiding The Sun?

sunbatherNew research looks into the paradox that women who sunbathe are likely to live longer than those who avoid the sun, even though sunbathers are at an increased risk of developing skin cancer.

An analysis of information on 29,518 Swedish women who were followed for 20 years revealed that longer life expectancy among women with active sun exposure habits was related to a decrease in heart disease and noncancer/non-heart disease deaths, causing the relative contribution of death due to cancer to increase.

Vitamin D

Whether the positive effect of sun exposure demonstrated in this observational study is mediated by vitamin D – another mechanism related to UV radiation – or by unmeasured bias cannot be determined. Therefore, additional research is warranted.
“We found smokers in the highest sun exposure group were at a similar risk as non-smokers avoiding sun exposure, indicating avoidance of sun exposure to be a risk factor of the same magnitude as smoking,” said Dr. Pelle Lindqvist, lead author of the Journal of Internal Medicine study. “Guidelines being too restrictive regarding sun exposure may do more harm than good for health.”

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Does Men’s Skin Cancer Knowledge Lag Behind Women’s?

skin tagsSkin cancer can affect anyone, regardless of age, race or gender. When it comes to skin cancer prevention and detection, however, it seems that men need to brush up on their knowledge. According to a 2016 American Academy of Dermatology survey:
1) Only 56 percent of men know that there’s no such thing as a healthy tan, compared to 76 percent of women.

2) Just 54 percent of men know that getting a base tan is not a healthy way to protect your skin from the sun, compared to 70 percent of women.

3) Only 56 percent of men know that skin cancer can occur on areas of the skin not typically exposed to the sun, compared to 65 percent of women.

“It’s important for both men and women to protect their skin from harmful ultraviolet rays and regularly examine their entire body, including hard-to-see areas, for signs of skin cancer,” says board-certified dermatologist Abel Torres, MD, JD, FAAD, president of the AAD. “While our survey results indicate that men don’t know as much about skin cancer prevention and detection as women, men over 50 have a higher risk of developing melanoma, so it’s especially important for them to be vigilant about protecting and monitoring their skin.”

Regular Skin Exams

“To keep your skin looking good and reduce your skin cancer risk, the AAD recommends protecting yourself from the sun by seeking shade, wearing protective clothing, and using a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher,” Dr. Torres says. “And since skin cancer – including melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer – is highly treatable when detected early, it’s important to regularly take a good look at your skin and check it for suspicious spots, asking someone you trust to help you examine hard-to-see areas.

“We want to remind everyone, especially men over 50, to regularly examine themselves for signs of skin cancer,” Dr. Torres added. “If you notice any irregular spots on your skin, or anything changing, itching or bleeding, see a board-certified dermatologist.”

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Do You Know How To Detect When Most Common Skin Cancer Turns Dangerous?

skin-cancerMost basal cell skin cancers are easily removed — those on the arm, leg or back. But when the cancer is on the eyelid or when it starts to invade surrounding tissue, it’s no longer straightforward.

A team of researchers who specialize in treating cancers of the eye wanted to identify a marker that would indicate aggressive basal cell skin cancer, and perhaps also provide a potential target for treatment.

“Basal cell carcinoma around the eye is very common. The eyelids seem to be a magnet for basal cell,” says Alon Kahana, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences at the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center.

“When a patient ignores it and doesn’t get it checked out, it can become bigger and invade deeper, making it much more difficult to treat. To do surgery with clear margins you may damage the muscles that control the eye or the bones of the eye socket, or you might even need to remove the eye. It can be really devastating,” he adds.

Even if patients are treated promptly, if the eyelid tumor is incompletely excised, it can return years later in a much more aggressive form. In addition, though rare, basal cells in any part of the body have the potential to become aggressive and spread throughout the body.

Inhibiting Tumor Growth

Recent research has revealed that the hedgehog signaling pathway, which is essential for tissue development and growth, is critical in all forms of basal cell carcinoma.

A clinical trial open at U-M is looking at whether one of two drugs intended to block hedgehog signaling can be an effective way of preserving eyesight in cases of advanced basal cell cancer near the eye. Trials of these drugs in basal cells not limited to the eye found that up to a third of patients had serious side effects.

With strong early results from that study, the researchers wanted to find a molecular marker to identify basal cell tumors that are more likely to be aggressive in the eye or elsewhere. They also wanted to identify markers of tumors that might be more likely to benefit from chemotherapy with hedgehog inhibitors.

They started with the protein EZH2, which is known to play a key role in several aggressive cancers. They analyzed tissue samples from 60 patients with basal cell carcinoma – 30 with a less histologically aggressive type and 30 with an aggressive type of the disease. Using molecular techniques, they tested for expression of EZH2 as well as Ki67, a marker of cell division.

“We found higher levels of both EZH2 and Ki67 in more aggressive tumors. This is the first fundamental step to show that EZH2 is abundant in histologically aggressive forms of these cancers,” says Rajesh Rao, M.D., assistant professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences and of pathology. The study is published in JAMA Oncology.

New Treatments In Development

Several drugs targeting EZH2 in other types of cancer are in the pipeline. The researchers will next begin looking at whether these drugs could expand to basal cell cancers, alone or in combination with hedgehog inhibitors, in order to improve outcomes. In addition, they will look at whether EZH2 or Ki67 can serve as a marker to help identify patients with an increased risk of cancer recurrence or tumors that are more likely to respond to chemotherapy.

Up to 3.5 million Americans are diagnosed with basal cell cancers each year. Despite the fact that basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of cancer, relatively little research has focused on it.

“One of our hopes is that this promising new discovery will bring back some attention to this most common of all cancers,” Kahana says. “Every one of us knows someone who has had basal cell. Our country is filled with survivors.”

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Are You Using Sunscreen Correctly?

sunscreenHow well do you understand sunscreen? For many consumers, the answer is not so well. According to new research, many people are still puzzled by the wide range of SPF numbers on product labels, and some may not be using sunscreen properly, which could increase their skin cancer risk.

In a 2016 American Academy of Dermatology survey, only 32 percent of respondents knew that an SPF 30 sunscreen does not provide twice as much protection as an SPF 15 sunscreen. Moreover, only 45 percent knew that a higher-SPF sunscreen does not protect you from the sun longer than a lower-SPF sunscreen.

“It’s important that everyone understands what they are seeing on a sunscreen label,” says board-certified dermatologist Abel Torres, MD, JD, FAAD, president of the AAD. “A sunscreen with an SPF of 30 blocks up to 97 percent of the sun’s rays. Higher SPFs block slightly more rays, but a higher-number SPF does not allow you to spend more time outdoors without reapplication; all sunscreens should be reapplied every two hours or after swimming or sweating.”

And while 85 percent of participants in the AAD survey knew that sunscreen needs to be reapplied after swimming, a new study from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology on May 16, indicates that some people may not be using sunscreen correctly. In studying 758 people with a history of nonmelanoma skin cancer and 34,161 control subjects, the authors found that those with a history of NMSC were more likely to seek shade, wear protective clothing and apply sunscreen, but they still received sunburns as often as those without a history of NMSC. While seeking shade and wearing protective clothing were associated with lower odds of sunburn, sunscreen use was not.

“While it makes sense that people with a history of skin cancer were more likely to practice sun protection, we were surprised to see that their methods were not always effective,” says board-certified dermatologist Anna L. Chien, MD, FAAD, one of the study’s co-authors. “Our results reinforce the importance of everyone using multiple types of sun protection; people who rely only on sunscreen may not be applying enough, covering all their exposed skin or reapplying often enough to shield themselves from the sun’s harmful UV rays.”

AAD Recommendations

The AAD recommends that everyone protect themselves from the sun by seeking shade; wearing protective clothing, such as a long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses; and using a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, applying enough to cover all exposed skin — for most adults, this is about 1 ounce, or enough to fill a shot glass. Sunscreen should be applied 15 minutes before sun exposure and reapplied every two hours or after swimming or sweating.

For more information about how to prevent and detect skin cancer, including instructions on how to perform a skin self-exam, visit SpotSkinCancer.org. There, you can download a body mole map for tracking changes in your skin and find free SPOTme skin cancer screenings in your area. SPOT Skin Cancer is the AAD’s campaign to create a world without skin cancer through public awareness, community outreach programs and services, and advocacy that promote the prevention, detection and care of skin cancer.

Try the 100% pure skin care system with botanical oils of almond, orange, lemon, avocado, olive, apricot and evening primrose. It naturally helps keep your face’s oils in balance and promotes clear, healthy skin. Women – Click here Men – Click here