Lycopene reduces risk of aggressive and lethal prostate cancer

Lycopene reduces risk of aggressive and lethal prostate cancer

Lycopene has consistentently been shown by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health to reduce the risk of prostate cancer; to reduce the risk of aggressive prostate cancer; and to reduce the risk of lethal prostate cancer and it does this as a potent antioxidant and natural statin-alternative.

Lycopene is a bioactive compound found in tomatoes. It is a carotenoid and known antioxidant. However, it also possesses the ability to lower total cholesterol and particularly "bad" LDL fat levels in the body. It even seems to make good cholesterol rise a little. 

It’s benefits are of increasing interest with prostate cancer, a cancer known to spread when helped by higher "bad" fat plasma levels. (One study even suggested prostate cells could make their own fat!). Lycopene is also known to collect in the prostate.

Lycopene and fat

Research (1) is clear: a 25 mg supplement taken daily with a little Extra Virgin Olive Oil, can reduce your LDL levels by 10%. The research said this correlation was dose dependent. The more you consumed, the greater the benefit. Some experts in America think that Lycopene is on a par with statins and considerably safer.

Go to: Is Lycopene better than statins?

Lycopene reduces risk of lethal prostate cancer

One of the first studies on tomatoes and cancer came from Harvard School of Public Health who reported in 1995 on a seven year study with tomatoes and prostate cancer. 10 helpings a week (preferably lightly cooked to release lycopene) was linked with a 45% reduction in prostate cancer risk. ’More is better’ said Dr Giovannucci who led the 9 year study following 47,000 men. Those who took 4-7 helpings had only a lower risk of 20%.

By 2002, the same team had extended the research to look at all tomatoes products including tomato sauce and pizza toppings, producing much the same result with an overall risk reduction of 35% in those who consumed the most. It seems processing tomatoes is as good as cooking in terms of releasing lycopene.

Since that time, some of the research on lycopene has been mixed but a meta-review(3) concluded that there were definitely benefits against prostate cancer.

Experts now believe the debate arose because there are two types of prostate cancer. First, there is the very slow growing, or indolent, prostate cancer where lycopene has modest benefits. It is with the more aggressive forms of prostate cancer is shows its true colours.

A 2014 study(2), amongst 50,000 male health professionals, clarified the issue. The study concluded that "Dietary intake of lycopene was associated with reduced risk of lethal prostate cancer, and with a lowered degree of angiogenesis in the tumour (blood vessel growth)". It was also associated with lowered levels overall of prostate cancer, even indolent prostate cancer.

This was a very important finding as angiogenesis and new blood vessels drive cancer in the prostate.

Lycopene, heart disease and cancer?

Lycopene is taken by some people to reduce the risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure and atherosclerosis risk. Lycopene has also been used with cataracts, HPV infections and asthma. It is used with a variety of cancers, not just prostate - there is limited research with breast, colon, lung, ovarian and pancreatic cancer.

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 1. Palozza P, Catalano A, Simone RE, Mele MC, Cittadini A. Ann Nutr Metab. 2012;61(2):126-34


 3.  2013;59(3):213-23.

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