Articles

Lycopene

Introduction

Lycopene is a non-essential nutrient that is in the same family as beta-carotene and lutein. It is the substance that gives tomatoes and several other fruits their deep red color. Attention has been focused on lycopene for its potential use in preventing cardiovascular diseases (1) and cancer, and for its potential immune boosting properties, (2) though the immune effects have been questioned. (3)

High levels of lycopene are found in tomatoes, guava, watermelon, pink grapefruit and rosehips.

Dosage Info

Dosage Range

2-6mg daily.

Most Common Dosage

4mg daily.

Dosage Forms

Tablets, capsules, and soft gel capsules.

Interactions and Depletions

Interactions

Reported Uses

Studies suggest that lycopene may reduce the harmful effects of cholesterol, which in turn can decrease the risk of atherosclerosis. (4) , (5) Lycopene deficiency has been correlated to a higher risk of macular degeneration, an eye disorder that can lead to blindness. (6) Other studies have looked at the relationship between ingesting lycopene-rich foods and decreased risk of several types of cancer. (7) Benefit may be strongest for cancers of the prostate, lung and stomach. (8) , (9) A study involving men with newly diagnosed prostate cancer took 15 mg of lycopene twice daily for two weeks prior to surgery. At the time of surgery, 73% of the men taking lycopene had no cancer outside of the immediate surgical area, only 18% of the non-lycopene group could make the same claim. Also 84% of men in the lycopene group had tumors less than 4mL in size compared to 45% of men not in the lycopene group. These results suggest that lycopene may retard the growth of prostate cancer. (10) Another study found that women who had higher levels of lycopene had a 50% less risk of cardiovascular disease. (11)

Toxicities & Precautions

Introduction

[span class=alert]Be sure to tell your pharmacist, doctor, or other health care providers about any dietary supplements you are taking. There may be a potential for interactions or side effects.[/span]

General

There are no known toxicities associated with this dietary supplement and is considered safe when used in accordance with proper dosing guidelines.

Pregnancy / Breast Feeding

To date, the medical literature has not reported any adverse effects related to fetal development during pregnancy or to infants who are breast-fed. Yet little is known about the use of this dietary supplement while pregnant or breast-feeding. Therefore, it is recommended that you inform your healthcare practitioner of any dietary supplements you are using while pregnant or breast-feeding.

Age Limitations

To date, the medical literature has not reported any adverse effects specifically related to the use of this dietary supplement in children. Since young children may have undiagnosed allergies or medical conditions, this dietary supplement should not be used in children under 10 years of age unless recommended by a physician.

References

  1. View Abstract: Sesso HD, et al. Plasma lycopene, other carotenoids, and retinol and the risk of cardiovascular disease in women. Am J Clin Nutr. Jan 2004;79(1):47-53.
  2. View Abstract: Chew BP. Antioxidant vitamins affect food animal immunity and health. J Nutr. Jun1995;125(6 Suppl):1804S-1808S.
  3. View Abstract: Corridan BM, O'Donoghue M, Hughes DA, Morrissey PA. Low-dose supplementation with lycopene or beta-carotene does not enhance cell-mediated immunity in healthy free-living elderly humans. Eur J Clin Nutr. Aug2001;55(8):627-35.
  4. View Abstract: Agarwal S, et al. Tomato Lycopene and Low Density Lipoprotein Oxidation: A Human Dietary Intervention Study. Lipids. Oct1998;33(10):981-84.
  5. View Abstract: Rissanen T, Voutilainen S, Nyyssonen K, Salonen JT. Lycopene, atherosclerosis, and coronary heart disease. Exp Biol Med (Maywood). Nov2002;227(10):900-7.
  6. View Abstract: Mares-Perlman JA, et al. Serum Antioxidants and Age-related Macular Degeneration in a Population-based Case-control Study. Arch Ophthalmol. Dec1995;113(12):1518-23.
  7. View Abstract: Murtaugh MA. Antioxidants, carotenoids, and risk of rectal cancer. Am J Epidemiol. 2004 Jan 1;159(1):32-41.
  8. View Abstract: Giovannucci E. Tomatoes, Tomato-based Products, Lycopene, and Cancer: Review of the Epidemiologic Literature. J Natl Cancer Inst. Feb1999;91(4):317-31.
  9. View Abstract: Rao AV, et al. Bioavailability and In Vivo Antioxidant Properties of Lycopene from Tomato Products and Their Possible Role in the Prevention of Cancer. Nutr Cancer. 1998;31(3):199-203.
  10. View Abstract: Kucuk O, Sarkar FH, Sakr W, et al. Phase II randomized clinical trial of lycopene supplementation before radical prostatectomy. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. Aug2001;10(8):861-8.
  11. View Abstract: Sesso HD, et al. Plasma lycopene, other carotenoids, and retinol and the risk of cardiovascular disease in women. Am J Clin Nutr. Jan 2004;79(1):47-53.