Lycopene is no longer considered a useful dietary tool in the fight against prostate cancer. But, you may have decided to try, anyway. We present what little we know, for you to decide for yourself.
Lycopene is categorized as a carotenoid, a colorful compound found in red fruits and vegetables. It is one of the strongest antioxidants found in nature and is present in high concentrations in tomatoes, tomato products and several other foods. The mechanism by which lycopene exerts a protective effect against prostate cancer is poorly understood. However, we do know that it quenches free radicals, which are harmful molecules that form in the body as a result of oxidation. They are highly reactive and can cause damage to DNA, RNA, lipids and proteins in normal healthy cells. Free radicals are believed to be involved in the development of cancerous cells.
A Phase II Randomized Trial of Lycopene Rich Tomatoe Extract Among Men with PINS A Poster Presentation at the 2012 AACR Meeting Dr. Peter Gann of the University of Illinois at Chicago reported on a randomized phase II trial he conducted using lycopene with men with high grade PINs, thought to be a precursor to the development of prostate cancer. He started the study because there is observational epidemiology evidence, animal models and cell culture experiments that have suggested that lycopene might inhibit the development of prostate cancer. Despite this evidence, Dr. Gann pointed out that prior to his study there was little clinical trial evidence of the effectiveness of lycopene. The trial was a 6 month repeat biopsy trial with men who had PINs. Men were randomly assigned to either a placebo control group or to the investigational group. The investigational group received 30 mg a day of a lycopene supplement. They found that at 6 months, despite a large difference in serum (blood) lycopene concentrations in the investigational group, there was no apparent differences between the two groups. They concluded that lycopene had no effect on cell proliferation or on prostate cancer cell inhibition.