Eating tomatoes could help fight a painful womb condition that affects 2 million women in UK By Jenny Hope Last updated at 12:09 AM on 13th November 2008 The Daily Mail A tomato a day could help fight endometriosis, a painful womb condition affecting two million British women. Researchers have discovered that an antioxidant called lycopene - found in high concentrations in tomato products - may prevent the internal scarring caused by the disease. Experiments by U.S. scientists found lycopene cut by up to 90 per cent the chemical activity that leads to the build-up of scar tissue. Experts say a tomato a day, 8oz of tomato juice,150g of pasta sauce or one lycopene tablet a day is enough to raise levels of lycopene in the blood. There is no cure for endometriosis and it can damage the fertility of sufferers, who include singer Louise Redknapp and TV presenter Anthea Turner. The problem arises when cells normally found in the womb lining attach themselves to other parts of the pelvic area, causing scar tissue called adhesions, pain and inflammation. In a study, adhesive tissues such as those found in endometriosis were treated with lycopene in the laboratory. Lycopene is a nutrient that gives the red colour to tomatoes, watermelon and pink grapefruit. Harmful: Endometriosis can damage fertility of women, such as Louise Redknapp, who has just had a second child after years of trying. The treatment significantly reduced the activity of proteins that cause the adhesions, by between 80 and 90 per cent. The findings were released at the American Society of Reproductive Medicine conference in San Francisco. Dr Tarek Dbouk, a researcher at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, said the amount used in the experiments was compatible with consumption of a lycopene-rich diet. He said the nutrient could potentially be used to treat endometriosis, scars caused by surgery and fibroids (benign tumours in the womb). 'What we found in our laboratory study is that lycopene can help with the adhesions that these conditions cause,' he 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. 'This means that you would not get the adhesions which suggests that lycopene could work to mitigate the complications and ailments of endometriosis. So, hypothetically speaking, we might be able to reduce the adhesion effects of endometriosis.' Dr Dbouk said it was not possible at this stage to advise women on the amount of lycopene they should eat, but levels used in the study were similar to those that could be got from a diet packed with tomatoes and other lycopene-rich foods. 'There are many studies showing it plays a positive role in cancer and chronic inflammation, it's a nutrient and it can't do any harm,' he added. The latest finding follows evidence that lycopene may protect against some forms of cancer, heart disease and male infertility. The typical daily intake of a British adult is less than one milligram of lycopene, about 25 times less than the amount found by studies to protect against disease.