Medicinal Benefits of Lycopene
There exists a strong link between prostate cancer and Lycopene intake, according to Medline Plus. Men who have higher levels of Lycopene or those that regularly eat foods rich in Lycopene, showed a reduced risk in prostate cancer. The same case applies to several other types of cancers like breast, cervical, bladder and lung cancers. While these studies are not 100% conclusive, the link that exists between Lycopene and these cancers holds much promise. Medline Plus also affirms that Lycopene is indeed used in the treatment of HPV infection - a major cause of uterine cancer.
The ability of Lycopene to effectively fight free radicals that cause damage to the body cells makes it a good anti-inflammatory agent. Free radicals are known to attack and damage cells and are generally considered to be the cause of chronic diseases. According to the National Cancer Institute, Lycopene as an antioxidant is able to neutralize these harmful free radicals thereby increasing the body’s ability to fight threats. It strengthens the body’s immune system. Increased consumption of Lycopene-rich foods essentially helps protect the body from diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Lycopene is also linked to lower risk of stroke particularly the one associated with blood clot obstructing the flow of blood. It is possible that Lycopene has blood thinning properties as well. According to a report published in the Neurology Journal, scientists were able to establish a link between the level of Lycopene and stroke protection. People with higher levels of Lycopene showed up to 59% reduction in the risk of suffering a stroke associated with blood clotting.
The appropriate dosage for Lycopene depends on a number of factors such as the health of the person, gender and age. The study at Harvard used not less than 6.5mg per day for the men that were participating in the trial. Dosage guidelines from manufacturers of Lycopene supplements range between 12mg-30mg, taken twice daily. Because it is not really a drug, these supplement doses may apply to all healthy individuals. However, you must always consult with your doctor before you start taking Lycopene supplements.
Lycopene Side Effects
Lycopene is not toxic and is almost always tolerated by everyone because it is a common ingredient in our foods. Discoloration of the skin to an orange color is possible if one takes excessive amounts of Lycopene for a long time. The discoloration disappears when Lycopene is removed from the diet. If you are intolerant to Lycopene, it is best to avoid it. Though the cases are very few, some people have reported allergic reaction after ingesting Lycopene.
Lycopene supplements should not be taken by an expectant woman or one who is breast feeding. While it is in safe amounts in the food eaten, it may be unsafe when supplemented. There are no documented interactions between Lycopene and other drugs. However, consult with your physician before you start taking any drugs or Lycopene supplements.
- Journal of the National Cancer Institute: Tomatoes, Tomato-Based Products, Lycopene, and Cancer
- Harvard Health Publication: Lycopene-Rich Tomatoes Linked To Lower Stroke Risk
- Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine: How Lycopene Helps Protect Against Cancer
- American Academy of Neurology: Serum Lycopene Decreases the Risk of Stroke In Men