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A painful condition affecting two million women can be treated with an antioxidant found in tomatoes, according to research at Wayne State University in Detroit.
Endometriosis is caused when cells that line the womb migrate to other parts of the body, where the tissue can cause pain and irritation.
Dr Tarek Dbouk has now found that lycopene, which gives tomatoes their red colour, mitigates endometriosis, although it is not yet clear how much needs to be administered.
His study, presented at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine conference in San Francisco, found that it reduces proteins that cause tissue to form by between 80% and 90%.
Dr Dbouk said: “One of the major complications of endometriosis is that it causes inflammation which induces adhesions. The inflammation basically causes scarring.
“What we did was to look at protein markers that could help us trace the activity of the abnormal cells that cause these adhesions. The lycopene worked to reduce the abnormal activity of these cells.”
Other studies have suggested that lycopene, found at its highest concentration in cooked tomatoes, could cut the risk of prostate cancer.
Copyright Press Association 2008