POSTMENOPAUSAL women ingesting more of the natural antioxidant lycopene may be lowering their risk of developing a type of kidney cancer called renal cell carcinoma.
Researchers analysed risks for kidney cancer associated with intake of lycopene and other micronutrients that have antioxidant properties, and during follow-up 240 women were diagnosed with kidney cancer. Women who ingested more lycopene had a 39% lower risk compared to women who reported a lower intake; they also found that other micronutrients were not significantly related to the same risk. Dr Cathryn Bock, Associate Professor of Oncology, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, Michigan, USA and her team formed this conclusion after analysing the data of 96,196 women who enrolled in the nationwide Women’s Health Initiative from 1993 to 1998 and were followed through July 2013 by participating centres.
Lycopene is found in foods such as tomatoes, watermelon, and papaya. “Lycopene from food sources has also been associated with decreased risk of breast and prostate cancers, and a diet high in vegetables and fruits is generally well accepted for promoting good health,” said Dr Bock. A low-salt diet has already been recommended for women at risk of hypertension, a crucial risk factor for kidney cancer, and this new development offers alternative steps that women can take to preserving good health.
However, kidney and renal pelvis cancer made up only 3.8% of all new cancer cases in 2014 in the USA, most often diagnosed at an advanced stage. “Kidney cancer is a relatively rare cancer, and so focusing only on reducing risk of this disease would be short-sighted,” said Dr Bock. “Rather, a diet focused on one’s own personal risk factors, such as family history, would be more beneficial.”
The team is now exploring the possibility of a relationship between antioxidant nutrient intake and kidney cancer risk in a National Cancer Institute-funded case-control trial, carried out on subjects from the metropolitan Detroit area. “This study included a broader population, including both men and women, and with greater representation of African-Americans, and therefore may help describe the associations in populations beyond post-menopausal women who are primarily of European descent,” said Dr Bock.