Ever wondered how tomatoes have that lovely red colour? Well the antioxidant responsible is called lycopene and has actually been shown to have beneficial effects on the risk of prostate cancer (eat up those tomatoes men!). Recently, more and more research is showing that this little antioxidant could help prevent breast cancer too. What a superhero!

Breast cancer accounts for 15% of all cancer cases and attributes to over 11,000 deaths each year in the UK. It is thought that 27% of all cases are linked to lifestyle and other risk factors. Therefore, we can all do something to attempt to decrease our risk. We are not saying it is 100% going to work, but it is something I would rather take on-board than not, you?

Studies have shown that females with higher circulatory levels of lycopene, and other carotenoids (other antioxidants found in vegetables such as carrots) may be at a reduced risk of breast cancer. The actual mechanisms are still being researched but it is thought to have an effect on the hormone receptors responsible for the cancer, the biomakers associated with it and/or the proteins that are thought to be potential prognostic and diagnostic biomarkers. Other theories are that the antioxidant inhibits cancer cell growth and multiplication.

It is thought, the best way to achieve lycopene is to heat your tomatoes with an olive oil (or other fat). So if you are making a tomato sauce for a pasta dish – perfect! Tip a can of chopped tomatoes in a pan with olive oil, add garlic and few herbs and spices and hey pesto! A potential preventative breast cancer meal. If you are not a fan of the shiny red ball of goodness, anything tomato based will contain lycopene. So have some tomorrow, opt for tomato soup at lunch or if you are treating yourself to an Indian this weekend, have a tomato based curry. If you want to really increase lycopene consumption, watermelon, pink grapefuit, pink guava and papaya will also give you an extra boost.

However, if you are a smoker, your body will not be able to absorb the antioxidant meaning, it wont be able to carry out all its superhero powers. Do your body an advantage today, put down that cigarette and pick up that tomato! (Note: We are not advertising to eat a tomato like an apple here, but, hey, whatever floats your boat!)