In part two of my look at the nutrient lycopene, we take aim at cancer. In fact, six different types of cancer. Found in rich amounts in tomatoes, lycopene may possess powerful cancer-preventative abilities.
Let’s start with a Harvard-based study that reviewed all the evidence on both lycopene and the tomato’s cancer- preventative abilities. The researcher’s conclusion was this : “Evidence is strongest for cancers of the lung, stomach, and prostate gland and is suggestive for cancers of the cervix, breast, oral cavity, pancreas, colon and esophagus.”
Researchers showed that high intake of lycopene from tomatoes reduced the risk of prostate cancer by 21%. It was also linked to a 35% lower risk of total prostate cancer, and a 53% lower risk of advanced cancer.
Another study using lycopene supplements, tested 15 milligrams (mg) on 26 men with prostate cancer for three weeks before they underwent a major surgery. The men had reduced cancer growth after the surgery was completed. A second study treated 26 men tested a tomato extract containing 30 mg of lycopene in the same way, before surgery. It led to much smaller tumors and far less significant spread of the tumor outside of the prostate.
In yet another study, 54 patients had a surgical procedure to remove the testes. They tested some of them with an added four mg a day of lycopene supplement. The nutrient helped shrink the tumor, lessen pain, and improve the surgery. These are small, yet promising studies.
Experts studied the relationship between 17 micronutrients and breast cancer risk in 289 women with confirmed breast cancer and 442 control subjects. They found that a higher lycopene intake reduced the breast cancer risk. The patients took an average of 6.2 mg a day.
Ovarian and Cervical Cancers
A large study of 549 patients with ovarian cancer found that a higher intake of lycopene was associated with a reduced risk for ovarian cancer — mainly in postmenopausal women. Another large population study found that women with higher blood levels of lycopene had a 33% lower risk of getting cervical cancer.
It is well known that colon polyps or adenomas are precursors to colon cancer. German researchers studied the relationship between blood levels of lycopene and these polyps. The results: people who ate the most tomatoes and tomato products had higher blood levels of lycopene and were protected from colon adenomas.
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