Lycopene Intake may be Associated with Reduced Pancreatic Cancer.




Journal of Nutrition

Related Monographs

Consumer Data: Lycopene
Professional Data: Lycopene


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 and cancer, and for its potential immune boosting properties, though the immune effects have been questioned. High levels of lycopene are found in tomatoes, guava, watermelon, pink grapefruit and rosehips.

A recent study published in the Journal of Nutrition stated that certain fruits and vegetables have been implicated in a reduced risk of pancreatic cancer. However, the active chemicals in these fruits and vegetables have not been researched further. This Canadian study involved 462 pancreatic cancer patients and 4721 control participants. The researchers investigated the potential role of carotenoids. Nutrient intake was recorded by self-administered food frequency questionnaires. The results were adjusted for Body Mass Index, age, smoking, among others. It was found that lycopene mostly ingested from tomatoes was associated with a 31% risk reduction of pancreatic cancer in men. In addition, higher intakes of carotenoids and beta-carotene were associated with a reduced risk in those who never smoked. The authors concluded that, “this study suggest that a diet rich in tomatoes and tomato-based products with high lycopene content may help reduce pancreatic cancer risk.”1


1. Nkondjock A, et al. Dietary Intake of Lycopene Is Associated with Reduced Pancreatic Cancer Risk. J Nutr. Mar 2004;135:592-7.