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Scientist holding halved tomatoes to extract lycopene for reducing certain disease risks

Lycopene: Research Update

Lycopene, found in tomatoes, has multiple benefits potentially reducing the risk of certain malignancies, neuropathies, and type II diabetes.

Scientifically reviewed by: Dr. Gary Gonzalez, MD, in December 2021. Written by: Laurie Mathena.

Bright red tomatoes and carrots, a source of the carotenoid lycopene

If you’ve ever wondered what makes a tomato red or a grapefruit pink, the answer is a carotenoid called lycopene.

In the body lycopene promotes blood vessel function, supports normal insulin sensitivity, and helps maintain healthy blood pressure levels.

But lycopene is best known for its role in helping reduce the risk of prostate cancer.

Because of its multi-targeted health benefits, lycopene has been described as an important nutrient for longevity.1

Scientist holding tomatoes for lycopene for whole body benefits

In just the past year alone, new studies have added to lycopene’s list of health benefits:

  • Lycopene protects against obesity and diabetes.2 After evaluating about 200 articles, researchers concluded that lycopene exhibits anti-diabetes and anti-obesity activities in multiple organs. They concluded that lycopene consumption could help lower the risk of obesity and diabetes.
  • Lycopene inhibits prostate cancer.3 A review summarized numerous original and review articles, evaluating the many ways that lycopene helped to prevent or suppress cancer. The authors concluded that lycopene suppressed the progression and proliferation of prostate cancer cells and induced apoptosis of these malignant cells in in-vivo and in-vitro conditions. It also modulated the signaling pathways and their proteins, potentially preventing and aiding in the treatment of prostate cancer.
  • Lycopene intake reduces all-cause mortality.4 In a review of studies, researchers determined that dietary lycopene or serum lycopene was associated with reduced all-cause mortality, prostate cancer, stroke, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, and male infertility.
  • Lycopene could help protect against peripheral neuropathy.5 In an animal study, oral administration of lycopene helped ameliorate central and peripheral nerve injuries caused by a platinum-based chemotherapeutic drug called oxaliplatin.
Man cooking with ingredients known for lycopene for better diet amounts

One drawback is that it isn’t easily available in adequate amounts through diet alone.

Fortunately, it’s easy to supplement with lycopene to derive the myriad benefits detailed in studies published in 2020-2021 that corroborate findings dating back to the 1980s.

If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension Wellness Specialist at 1-866-864-3027.

References

  1. Available at: https://www.pnas.org/content/pnas/suppl/2018/10/09/1809045115.DCSupplemental/pnas.1809045115.sapp.pdf. Accessed November 19, 2021.
  2. Zhu R, Chen B, Bai Y, et al. Lycopene in protection against obesity and diabetes: A mechanistic review. Pharmacol Res. 2020 Sep;159:104966.
  3. Mirahmadi M, Azimi-Hashemi S, Saburi E, et al. Potential inhibitory effect of lycopene on prostate cancer. Biomed Pharmacother. 2020 Sep;129:110459.
  4. Li N, Wu X, Zhuang W, et al. Tomato and lycopene and multiple health outcomes: Umbrella review. Food Chem. 2021 May 1;343:128396.
  5. Celik H, Kucukler S, Ozdemir S, et al. Lycopene protects against central and peripheral neuropathy by inhibiting oxaliplatin-induced ATF-6 pathway, apoptosis, inflammation and oxidative stress in brains and sciatic tissues of rats. Neurotoxicology. 2020 Sep;80:29-40.