New research links reduced cancer risk with tomato phytonutrients
Scientists have long believed that the carotenoids found in fruits and vegetables have a cancer preventive effect. In particular, epidemiological studies have found that as the consumption of tomato products increases, risk of certain types of cancer decreases. Researchers at Ben Gurion University and Soroka Medical Center in Beer Sheva, Israel are engaged in research aimed at discovering the mechanism(s) of action that would explain this relationship between tomato consumption and cancer prevention.
In a study published in the January 2005 issue of Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, Dr. Yoav Sharoni and Dr. Joseph Levy report that carotenoids, well known for their antioxidant activity, also act to prevent cancer by stimulating a specific gene expression system, termed the"antioxidant response element". Stimulation of this system is an established mechanism for the mobilization of the body's defense system against carcinogens and other harmful compounds. By activating this system tomato carotenoids induce the production of phase II detoxification enzymes. These enzymes convert carcinogens, which can cause DNA mutations that lead to cancer, into products that are less toxic and are readily excreted from the body.
Asked about the importance of this new research, Dr. Sharoni stated “This is the first work to show that lycopene and other carotenoids activate the antioxidant response element. This is a completely novel discovery.”
The importance of this research lies in the implications the results carry for improving the health of the general public. Dr. Levy suggests that “a diet rich in tomato products may help trigger unique cancer preventive mechanisms. Thus, people should add increased amounts of tomato phytonutrients from tomato products or tomato extract supplements to their daily diet.”
Josephy Levy Ph.D.
Dr. Joseph Levy holds the 1991 Elaine Sclar Chair in Endocrinology and Cancer. He is a Professor in the Clinical Biochemistry Department Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben Gurion University, and acts as the Head of the Endocrine Laboratory at Soroka Medical Center in Be'er-Sheva, Israel.
Dr. Joseph Levy served as the head of the Faculty of Medicine Committees for Research Students, the Chairman, Biochemistry Department Faculty of Health Sciences, and the Chairman, of the Faculty Committee of Research. He is currently teaching General Biochemistry and Clinical Biochemistry to medical students, as well as supervising graduate student candidates for MSc and DSc / PhD degrees and physicians in basic and clinical research.
Dr. Joseph Levy's research interest is in the regulation of mammary and prostate cancer cell proliferation by hormones and growth factors, and the effect of carotenoids and other dietary active ingredients in this process and in cancer prevention. His research focuses on the regulation of basic cellular metabolic pathways such as transcription, cell cycle machinery, signal transduction and differentiation. Dr. Joseph Levy has received grant support from agencies including Chief Scientists of the Ministry of Health, Israel, European Community, Cap Cure and from many pharmaceutical agencies.
Dr. Joseph Levy gained a Post-doctoral Research Fellowship, Laboratory of Experimental, Medicine, Free University of Brussels, Belgium. Dr. Levy was a visiting scientist at the Department of Cell Biology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, USA, and Department of Steroid Biochemistry, Imperial Cancer Research Fund, London U.K.
Yoav Sharoni Ph.D
Dr. Yoav Sharoni is a Professor in the Department of Clinical Biochemistry, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben Gurion University, Beer-Sheva, Israel. He served as the Chairman of the Department of Clinical Biochemistry, and is currently teaching General Biochemistry and Clinical Biochemistry to medical students and to undergraduate students, as well as supervising graduate students candidates for MSc and DSc / PhD degrees.
Dr. Yoav Sharoni's research interest is in the regulation of mammary and prostate cancer cell proliferation by hormones, growth factors and phyto-nutrients. The main emphasis during the last decade has been on the role of carotenoids and other dietary derived compounds in cancer prevention and the mechanisms for such effects. In this respect the focus has been on the regulation of basic cellular pathways such as cell cycle machinery, transcription, signal transduction and differentiation. Dr. Yoav Sharoni has received grant support from agencies including Chief Scientists of the Israeli Ministry of Health, European Community, Cap Cure, as well as from pharmaceutical and nutraceutical corporations.
Dr. Yoav Sharoni received his Ph.D. degree from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He was a researcher at Duke University and Burroughs Wellcome, NC, USA and a visiting professor at the NIH, MD USA.