Lycopene is a carotenoid compound that accounts for the red color in tomatoes. It is the most abundant form of carotenoids (of a total of 600) in the US diet. The second most abundant is beta-carotene. More than 80% of the lycopene consumed in the U.S. actually comes from tomato sauce, pizza and ketchup. The bioavailability of lycopene is increased following cooking. Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that appears to prevent oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and reduces the risk of developing atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease. Ongoing research suggests that lycopene can reduce the risk of prostate cancer and cancers of the lung, bladder, cervix and skin. It does protect the skin from the damaging effects of ultra-violet light radiation.
Research shows that plasma lycopene levels are clearly reduced, by about 40-50%, in smokers whose lungs are exposed to a high degree of oxidative damage. Supplements containing 20 – 40 mg of lycopene have been shown to reduce DNA damage in white blood cells. In addition, lycopene supplements have been shown to slow tumor growth in prostate cancer.
Dosage: Regular consumption of tomato products is recommended as your primary lycopene source, with 20-40 mg of supplemental lycopene for added antioxidant support. Common treatments such as cholestiramine and Probucol have been shown to reduce plasma lycopene levels by 30-40% and may require lycopene supplementation.
Side Effects: No significant adverse side effects are associated with regular consumption of supplemental levels of lycopene.
Lycopene research shows the following:
1. Prevents LDL oxidation
2. Lowers risk of lung cancer
3. Diabetics have low plasma levels of lycopene
4. Those with cardiovascular disease have low levels of lycopene
5. Those with chronic renal failure have low levels of lycopene
6. Decreases risk of atherosclerosis
7. May decrease growth rate of prostate cancer
8. Is a potent antioxidant
9. May limit development of oral cancer
10. May limit development of gastric cancer
11. May limit development of endometrial cancer and tumors
12. Decreases risk of breast cancer
13. Decreases risk of ovarian cancer
14. Protects against preeclampsia
15. Protects against Human Papilloma Virus
16. Protects against exercise induced asthma
Lycopene Abstracts (71)
Lycopene Citations (129)