Lycopene is a non-provitamin A carotenoid pigment which is synthesized by plants but not by animals. Lycopene has a bright red color and is named after the tomato plant, known scientifically as Solanum lycopersicum. Lycopene was first isolated in 1910 from the fruit of the tomato plant, which has the highest lycopene content. The molecular structure of lycopene was determined in 1931.
Tomatoes and tomato products provide over 85 percent of the lycopene intake. Additional sources of lycopene include autumn olives, pink guava, pink grapefruit, wolfberries and rosehips. The most important use of lycopene in plants is to help support the skin’s ability to manage the effects of sunlight. It is also an approved food coloring in most countries due to its strong color and non-toxicity.
Lycopene is an antioxidant which may provide a variety of supporting functions in humans. It is found in most human tissues, although the tissues with the greatest concentration of lycopene include the blood, skin, adrenal glands and liver.
Cited Health Benefits
1. May Prevent Cardiovascular Disorders
A review article (2011) entitled “Lycopene and cardiovascular diseases: an update” published in Current Medicinal Chemistry concluded “Although many aspects of lycopene in vivo metabolism, functions and clinical indications remain to be clarified, supplementation of low doses of lycopene has been already suggested as a preventive measure for contrasting and ameliorating many aspects of CVD”.
A recent clinical review (2017) entitled “Lycopene and tomato and risk of cardiovascular diseases: A systematic review and meta-analysis of epidemiological evidence” published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition concluded “This comprehensive meta-analysis suggests that high-intakes or high-serum concentration of lycopene are associated with significant reductions in the risk of stroke (26%), mortality (37%) and CVDs (14%)”.
2. May Prevent Prostate Cancer
A recent clinical review (2017) entitled “Increased dietary and circulating lycopene are associated with reduced prostate cancer risk: a systematic review and meta-analysis” published in Prostate Cancer and Prostatic Diseases concluded “Our data demonstrate that higher dietary and circulating lycopene concentrations are inversely associated with PCa risk. This was accompanied by dose-response relationships for dietary and circulating lycopene. However, lycopene was not associated with a reduced risk of advanced PCa. Further studies are required to determine the mechanisms underlying these associations”.
A recent clinical review (2015) entitled “Lycopene and Risk of Prostate Cancer: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis published in Medicine concluded “In conclusion, our novel data demonstrates that higher lycopene consumption/circulating concentration is associated with a lower risk of PCa. However, further studies are required to determine the mechanism by which lycopene reduces the risk of PCa and if there are other factors in tomato products that might potentially decrease PCa risk and progression”
3. May Prevent Lung Cancer
A clinical trial (2002) entitled “Lycopene and the lung” published in Experimental Biology and Medicine concluded “The published epidemiologic literature shows an interaction between study design and the relationship between lycopene and/ or tomatoes and risk of lung cancer. Overall, cohort studies did not show an association, whereas case-control studies showed a decreased risk with greater consumption of lycopene and tomatoes. Although lycopene can be found in the human lung, and there is evidence, albeit weak, for a protective association with lung cancer, its biologic role remains to be elucidated”.
3. May Have Other Health Benefits
A review article (2005) entitled “Lycopene: a review of its potential as an anticancer agent” published in Current Medicinal Chemistry. Anti-cancer Agents summarized:
- Dietary chemoprevention has emerged as a cost effective approach to control most prevalent chronic diseases including cancer.
- In particular, tomato and tomato products are recognised to confer a wide range of health benefits.
- Epidemiological studies have provided evidence that high consumption of tomatoes effectively lowers the risk of reactive oxygen species (ROS)-mediated diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer by improving the antioxidant capacity.
- Tomatoes are rich sources of lycopene, an antioxidant carotenoid reported to be a more stable and potent singlet oxygen quenching agent compared to other carotenoids.
- In addition to its antioxidant properties, lycopene shows an array of biological effects including cardioprotective, anti-inflammatory, antimutagenic and anticarcinogenic activities.
The anticancer activity of lycopene has been demonstrated both in in vitro and in vivo tumour models.
The mechanisms underlying the inhibitory effects of lycopene on carcinogenesis could involve ROS scavenging, upregulation of detoxification systems, interference with cell proliferation, induction of gap-junctional communication, inhibition of cell cycle progression and modulation of signal transduction pathways.
This review outlines the sources, structure, absorption, metabolism, bioavailability and pharmacological properties of lycopene with special reference to its antioxidant and anticarcinogenic effects.
A review article (2010) entitled “An Update on the Health Effects of Tomato Lycopene” published in the Annual Review of Food Science and Technology summarized:
- Lycopene can be a potent antioxidant under the appropriate chemical conditions, but it is present at such low levels in the human body some researchers have speculated that any health effects observed may be due to the effects of lycopene or its metabolites on gene regulation.
- However, the accumulation of lycopene in some organs may allow for multiple mechanisms of action, including antioxidant activity.
- Evidence from animal studies suggests that lycopene could be metabolized in the human body, whereas data from human studies suggest that oxidative products of lycopene can be absorbed and further metabolized in humans.
- It is possible that there are other bioactive lycopene metabolites that are yet to be identified.
- Further work must be done to understand how lycopene is metabolized in fruits and vegetables and whether these products are absorbed into the bloodstream and distributed and stored in tissues.
- In addition, more research is needed to understand how lycopene is metabolized in humans and whether these metabolites have biological effects.
The FDA classifies lycopene as generally safe.
No unhealthy effects have been reported for lycopene.
There are studies showing that a daily intake of up to 120 mg of lycopene per day is safe. As the safety of lycopene supplements in pregnancy and lactation has not been established, pregnant and breastfeeding women should obtain lycopene from foods rather than supplements.
There is no reason to limit the consumption of carotenoid-rich fruits and vegetables during pregnancy.
Presently, no tolerable upper intake level (UL) has been set for lycopene.
High intakes of lycopene-rich foods or supplements may result in a deep orange discoloration of the skin known as lycopenodermia.
Because lycopene is more intensely colored than the carotenes, lycopenodermia may occur at lower doses than carotenodermia.
Fine’s Antioxidant Pectin Gummies for Adults
Lycopene is among the active ingredients included in Fine’s Antioxidant pectin gummies for adults. This product is a balanced, safe and an effective supplement of various ingredients with powerful antioxidant activities which prevent oxidative damage by free radicals. This natural supplement may also:
Promote a healthy vision
Boost the immune system
Support a healthy reproductive system
Promote wound healing
Maintain healthy blood vessels
Maintain strong and healthy teeth, bones and muscles
Support a healthy skin
Decrease the risk of heart diseases
Decrease the risk of cancer
Have various other health benefits