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Life Extension Update

Higher serum lycopene levels linked to lower mortality risk over a decade

Thursday, February 4, 2016

The journal Nutrition Research published an article online on January 9, 2016 that revealed a significantly lower risk of dying over follow-up among metabolic syndrome patients who had high levels of lycopene. Lycopene is a carotenoid that gives such food as tomatoes and watermelon their red color. The compound has been associated with a number of health benefits in recent research.

A team from the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha evaluated data from 2,499 participants who enrolled in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 2001-2006. Subjects were limited to those 20 years of age and older with metabolic syndrome. Blood samples collected upon enrollment were analyzed for serum lycopene concentrations.

Among subjects whose lycopene levels were among the top one-third of participants, the risk of dying over follow-up was 39% lower than those in the lowest group, and for those whose levels were among the middle third, the risk was 33% lower.

"To our knowledge, this is the first study to examine the association between serum lycopene and the risk of mortality in individuals with metabolic syndrome," authors Guang-Ming Han and colleagues announce. "Although the biological mechanisms by which metabolic syndrome increases the risk of mortality are not entirely clear, increased oxidative stress and inflammation may play an important role in the higher rate of mortality of individuals with metabolic syndrome."

"Lycopene has the potential to reduce the risk of mortality by alleviating oxidative stress and decreasing inflammation," they write. "As expected, our study clearly demonstrated that higher serum lycopene level is significantly associated with higher survival time among participants with metabolic syndrome."

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