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Greater lycopene intake associated with lower prostate cancer risk

12.20.2018


Research reported in the February 2014 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute adds more evidence to a protective effect for lycopene, a carotenoid occurring in tomatoes and other red pigmented plant foods, against the risk of developing prostate cancer.

For the current study, researchers including Meir J. Stampfer and Edward Giovannucci of Harvard School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital evaluated data from 49,898 male health professionals. Dietary questionnaires completed at different time points were analyzed for lycopene intake. Prostate cancer cases and deaths from the disease were determined for the period from 1986 to 2010.

Among men whose lycopene intake was among the top one-fifth of participants, there was a 28% lower risk of prostate cancer in comparison with those whose intake was among the lowest fifth. When the risk of lethal prostate cancer was examined, those in the highest intake group experienced a 44% lower risk. In an analysis of early versus recent intake, early intake proved to be protective. Having a high intake of the compound was additionally associated with cancer biomarkers that were indicative of a reduced potential for angiogenesis: the formation of new blood vessels by a tumor that facilitates its spread.

“Dietary intake of lycopene was associated with reduced risk of lethal prostate cancer and with a lesser degree of angiogenesis in the tumor,” the authors conclude. “Because angiogenesis is a strong progression factor, an endpoint of lethal prostate cancer may be more relevant than an endpoint of indolent prostate cancer for lycopene in the era of highly prevalent prostate-specific antigen screening.”


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