Lycopene may destroy cancers of the mouth, according to a recent study reported in the New Scientist. Researchers led by Betty Schwartz at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, explored the anticancer properties of a range of substances that occur naturally in food. The researchers, in particular, were looking at pro-vitamin-A carotenoids - plant pigments that the body converts into vitamin A, such as the carotene that makes carrots orange. They investigated the effect these precursors would have when added to cultures of human oral cancer cells. As a control, Schwartz decided to use lycopene, she discovered that the tumour cells given lycopene died. "This adds to the increasing body of evidence that lycopene in the diet can reduce the risk of cancer at many sites, including the breast, pancreas, prostate and intestine," says Peter Bramley of Royal Holloway, part of the University of London, who is trying to genetically engineer tomatoes to produce more lycopene. He added , "We now need to establish the precise mechanism of action of lycopene not only in cancer prevention, but alsoits possible role in reducing cardiovascular disease and nervous-system illnesses."