From Health Facts
Jump to: navigation, search
Latest Edit: Hector 2014-03-17 (EDT)

See Also Food Supplements

Lycopene is a red, fat-soluble pigment classified as a carotenoid, found in many fruits and vegetables. Unlike other carotenoids it has no provitamin-A activity. Lycopene is produced by organisms to protect against oxidative damage from oxygen and light. The health benefits of lycopene are attributed to its potent antioxidant nature, ability to modulate intercellular gap junctions, and inhibition of human cancer cell growth. Lycopene has been widely studied and used for its anti-cancer properties, particularly in prostate cancer. Elevated serum and tissue levels of lycopene have been shown to be protective against both lung and prostate cancers.[1]

Food Sources

Lycopene is found in high concentrations in tomatoes and tomato products, watermelon, guava, and grapefruit. Interestingly lycopene is more readily available in processed tomato products than in fresh tomatoes.


The following is a list of the primary uses for Lycopene.

Article Lycopene's Effects on Health and Diseases, NMJ, [1], 2012 January
  • Prostate Health
  • Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) levels have been shown to decrease with regular consumption of tomatoes and tomato products. In one study, patients with BPH who ingested 50g of tomato paste for 10 weeks had significant reductions in PSA levels, which presumably correlates with reduction or disease progression.[2]
  • Studies have shown that increased lycopene intake is inverselely related to serum insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) levels and prostate cancer. IGF-1 has been shown to play a role in prostate cancer pathogensis, and it has been suggested that lycopenes protection against prostate cancer may be attributed to its affects on IGF-1. [1]
  • Lycopene has also been shown to up-regulate the gene connexin 43 which is responsible for intercellular gap junction communication - a process shown to decrease cell proliferation [1] When supplemented in patients with advanced prostate cancer undergoing orchidectomy, lycopene produced a more consistent decrease in PSA levels, provided better relief from bone pain and urinary symptoms, and decreased primary and secondary tumor size more than orchidectomy alone.[3]
  • Higher intake of lycopene has been associated with a decreased risk of breast cancer. In vitro studies have demonstrated lycopene to have a greater inhibitory effect on breast cancer cells than either alpha or beta-carotene. In a study of 17 micronutrients and breast cancer risk, lycopene intake was associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer, with the high intake group consuming 6.2 mg/daily.[1]
  • Other Hormone-related Cancers
  • A population based study investigating he intake of antioxidants and carotenoids, showed that increased lycopene consumption was associated with a decreased risk of ovarian cancer in postmenopausal women. Similarly, lycopene consumption has been shown to decrease the risk of developing cervical cancer in women with cervical dysplasia.[1]
  • Data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey suggested a role for lycopene in preventing insulin resistance, as lycopene intake was inversely related to fasting serum insulin. Studies have also shown that an increased intake of vegetables and fruits rich in lycopene and other carotenoids is preventative of hyperglycemia.[1]
  • Lycopene is beneficial in the treatment of exercise-induced asthma.[6], [7]

Prescribing Considerations

The recommended dosages have not yet been established.

  • Dosages studied in literature range from 6-60mg daily. Specifically:[1]


No adverse effects have been reported associated with lycopene supplementation.

  • Pregnancy and Breastfeeding:
  • Currently there is no research on lycopene use during pregnancy, but it is considered safe when ingested from food sources.
  • Drug Interactions
  • No reported drug interactions.
  • Nutrient Interactions
  • Cholesterol lowering drugs, fat substitutes, and mineral oils may decrease absorption. [1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 Lycopene Monograph. Alt Med Rev;2003,(8)3:336-42.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Prousky Jonathan (2008) Principles and Practices of Naturopathic Clinical Nutrition, CCNM Press.
  3. Pizzorno Joseph E, Murray Michael T (1999) Textbook of Natural Medicine, Elsevier.
  4. Agarwal S, Rao AV (1998) Tomato lycopene and low density lipoprotein oxidation: a human dietary intervention study. Lipids;33:981-984.
  5. Kohlmeier L et al. (1997) Lycopene and myocardial infarction risk in EURAMIC study. Am J Epidemiol;146:618-626.
  6. Neuman I, Nahum H, Ben-Amotz A (Dec 2000) Reduction of exercise-induced asthma oxidative stress by lycopene, a naturalantioxidant. Allergy;55(12):1184-9. PMID: 11117277.
  7. Falk B, Gorev R, Zigel L, Ben-Amotz A, Neuman I (Apr 2005) Effect of lycopene supplementation on lung function after exercise in young athletes who complain of exercise-induced bronchoconstriction symptoms. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol;94(4):480-5. PMID: 15875530.