Lycopene and CVD in Women.




Am J Clin Nutr.

Related Monographs

Consumer Data: Lycopene Cardiovascular Disease
Professional Data: Lycopene Cardiovascular Disease


Diseases of the heart and circulation are so common and the public is so well acquainted with the major symptoms that result from cardiovascular disorders that patients, and occasionally physicians, wrongly attribute many unrelated complaints to cardiovascular disease (CVD).1 It should not be a surprise that this occurs since most patients are aware that cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death in the United States. There are four principle properties of the cardiovascular system that can be evaluated to provide information to help manage cardiovascular disease. These include movement of electrical signals through the heart, heart pump function, blood flow through the heart, and anatomy.

A recent study published in the January issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition investigated the role of a substance called lycopene in cardiovascular risk in women. Lycopene is a 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. High levels of lycopene are found in tomatoes, guava, watermelon, pink grapefruit and rosehips.

In this study, researchers matched a control group of 483 healthy middle-aged to elderly women to an equivalent group that had CVD. Blood levels of lycopene, other carotenoids, and retinol were measured in both groups. The results of this study were adjusted for smoking, cholesterol, and age. The results found that those who had the highest blood levels of lycopene had a 50% reduced risk of CVD when compared to those who had the lowest levels. These results were not seen in the other carotenoids measured. The authors concluded that the results of this study warrant further investigations into the mechanisms of lycopene.2


1. Braunwald E. Approach to the patient with heart disease. In: Fauci AS, Braunwald E, Isselbacher KJ, et al. eds. Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine, 14th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill; 1998:1229-1231.
2. 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.