As summer approaches, so does tomato season, and this year a new study from Italy gives us an additional reason to dig into our favorite sunshine vegetable (or fruit, but that's a debate for another time). The research found that tomatoes may not only help to prevent stomach cancer, but may also hold to the key to new treatments aimed at curing the disease.

A new study published online in the Journal of Cellular Physiology has found that tomato extracts from two different Southern Italian varieties, the San Marzano and Corbarino tomatoes, may help to stop stomach cancer cell growth and prevent the cells from adapting malignant, or dangerous, features. The study concluded that this behavior may be used in the future to both prevent and treat different forms of gastric cancer. The best part, the benefits were found in the tomatoes as a whole, meaning that you can simply gain these benefits by enjoying delicious ripe tomatoes on their own and don’t have to buy specialized extracts. The team suspect that different species of tomatoes may have different cancer fighting abilities, and hope to further investigate these findings.

“Their antitumoral effect seem not related to specific components, such as lycopene, but rather suggest that tomatoes should be considered in their entirety,” says study author Daniela Barone, in a recent statement.

Read: Super Tomatoes With Extra Heart-Healthy Antioxidants: The Bright Future Of Agricultural Engineering

For their study, the team analyzed whole tomato extracts for their ability to combat gastric cancer cells. In doing so, they found that extracts of San Marzano and Corbarino tomatoes in particular, both of which are native to Southern Italy, were able to stop the cancer cells from growing and taking on malignant properties. The tomatoes appeared to have affected key processes inside of the cancer cells, which eventually led to cancer cell death, the statement reported.

This is not the first time that tomatoes have been noted for their health benefits, especially when it comes to its cancer-fighting attributes. For example, in a 2014 study, researchers in England found that men who consumed at least 10 servings of tomatoes a week saw their risk of prostate cancer drop by 18 percent. The researchers from Bristol University believe this drop in risk is caused by lycopene, the key nutrient found in tomatoes.

In addition, in another study, researchers in England have also figured out a way to grow “super tomatoes” that have even more cancer fighting antioxidants. The researchers added a protein called AtMYB12 to tomatoes plants. This caused the activation of phenylpropanoids, a type of polyphenol proven to play a role in preventing diseases like cancer and heart disease.

"Our study provides a general tool for producing valuable phenylpropanoid compounds on an industrial scale in plants, and potentially production of other products," said the study’s lead author Cathie Martin, in a press release. "Our work will be of interest to different research areas including fundamental research on plants, plant/microbe engineering, medicinal plant natural products, as well as diet and health research."

Source: Barone D, Cito L, Tommonaro, et al. Antitumoral Potential, Antioxidant Activity and Carotenoid Content of Two Southern Italy Tomato Cultivars Extracts: San Marzano and Corbarino. Journal of Cellular Physiology . 2017

See Also:

Tomato-Rich Diet Cuts Prostate Cancer Risk With Toxin-Fighting Lycopene

A Tomato a Day Keeps the Shrink Away: How Eating Tomatoes Can Cut the Risk of Depression by Half