Eating plenty of tomatoes could stave off wrinkles – and even skin cancer, say scientists. The fruit is rich in an antioxidant called lycopene that helps shield the body from harmful UV radiation.
A study says it isn’t a substitute for sunscreen but offers another important line of defence. The German researchers said it could lead to people taking supplements containing the chemical for health – or cosmetic – purposes. They also found another pigment known as lutein – abundant in spinach and kale – achieved similar results.
They compared the skin of 65 people who were divided into two groups – one given a supplement called TNC (tomato nutrient complex) or a placebo and the other lutein or the dummy treatment. At the beginning and end of each 12-week treatment phase their skin was exposed to two types of ultraviolet (UV) light, UVA1 and UVA/B in a process known as irradiation – with biopsies taken 24 hours later. These showed those who received no lycopene or lutein had increased expression of certain ‘indicator genes’ linked to wrinkly skin and inflammation – two common side effects of sun damage.