Written by Dr.Albana Greca Sejdini, Md, MMedSc
In USA, prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer among men. However, recent clinical studies have suggested lycopene for prostate cancer. What happens is that the chemical composition of lycopene makes it extremely reactive against oxygen and free radicals (which are the by-products of breaking down of food by your body).
Free radicals can destroy the cells of your body; in fact, they are responsible for causing most types of cancers, including prostate cancer. Consequently, anti-oxidant property of lycopene makes it very effective in chemo-prevention of your body cells.
Statistically, scientists have proved that there is an inverse relationship between the levels of lycopene in your blood and your risk to develop prostate cancer later in your life.
Individuals who consume diets rich in tomatoes (which contain lycopene in concentrate amount) are at lower risks of developing some types of cancers, particularly lung, stomach and prostate cancers. Experts advise you to eat at least 2-4 servings of tomato sauce to reduce your risk to develop advanced prostate cancer by fifty percent.
Lycopene is one of main carotenoid compounds. It is responsible for the bright color of tomatoes and many types of fruits and vegetables like apricots, guava, watermelon, papaya, and pink grapefruit.
When you eat products rich in lycopene, lycopene will accumulate in the tissues of your prostate, and it will be localized in the nuclei of cells of prostate epithelium. Besides its potent anti-oxidant activity, lycopene can stop multiplication of prostate cancer cells, and promote their self-destruction.
Lycopene can also prevent cancerous cells from spreading from prostate to the surrounding healthy tissues and organs.
Lycopene is generally considered to be safe and not toxic. Although, scientists have no solid evidence that lycopene can be used in pregnancy, no side effects of using lycopene have been reported in such period. According to a recent HARVARD study, lycopene can protect your heart from a lot of problems.
There are no reported side effects from eating fruits and vegetables rich in lycopene. The risk of complications usually occurs when taking this product as a dietary supplement, because, most companies producing these supplements are not required to prove safety and effectiveness of their products to US Food and Drug Administration.
Most of these products might contain different herbs and materials which are not tested for their effect on humans or for their drug or food interactions. Additionally, taking supplements that contain antioxidants, like lycopene, during treatment of prostate cancer might interfere with radiotherapy as well as chemotherapy.