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Lycopene and Women's Health
– A summary of research studies on the Health Benefits
of Lycopene

Edited by Christine Dreher, CCN, CCH
 

From the media, we have already heard about the impressive benefits of Lycopene for men’s prostate health. But did you know the impressive benefits of Lycopene for women’s health? The following is a summary of research studies on the benefits of lycopene for women’s health and longevity. (Men, you can still benefit from reading this too.)There is evidence that the intake of lycopene can positively impact chronic health concerns that are important to women. These include breast cancer, ovarian cancer, cervical cancer, cardiovascular disease, vision and longevity.

Lycopene and Breast Health


Source of Lycopene – Rose Hips

In the United States, women who live to be 90 have a 1 in 8 chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer, with 205,000 cases expected in 2002 (1). While some studies have found no significant association between dietary lycopene intake and breast cancer, others have found a positive relationship between lycopene in breast tissue and breast cancer risk (2). In cell cultures, lycopene has been found to inhibit breast cancer tumors more efficiently, when compared to alpha and beta-carotene (3). In a case-control study conducted between 1993 and 1999 which examined the relationship between 17 micronutrients and breast cancer risk, lycopene was significantly inversely associated with breast cancer risk. The study reviewed the diets of 289 Swiss women with confirmed breast cancer and 442 controls. Median intake of lycopene in the "high intake" group was 6229 g/day (4). In a study published in 1998, samples taken from The Breast Cancer Serum Bank in Columbia, Missouri were analyzed to evaluate the relationship of levels of carotenoids (including lycopene), selenium and retinol with breast cancer. Only lycopene was found to be associated with a reduced risk for developing breast cancer (5).

Lycopene and Ovarian and Cervical Health

Intake of dietary lycopene may also play a role in the prevention of ovarian and cervical cancers. An estimated 23,300 cases of ovarian cancer and 13,000 cases of cervical cancer are expected in the U.S. in 2002 (1). From a population-based study of 549 cases of ovarian cancer and 516 controls, researchers estimated consumption of several antioxidant vitamins and carotenoids including lycopene. Intake of lycopene was significantly and inversely associated with risk for ovarian cancer, predominately in postmenopausal women. The foods most strongly associated with a decreased risk for ovarian cancer were raw carrots and tomato sauce (6). In a study involving 147 confirmed cervical cancer patients and 191 non-cancerous subjects (7), only lycopene was found to be significantly lower in cancerous patients. In another study of non-Hispanic, black women, those women with higher levels of lycopene in the blood were found to have a decreased risk (by 33%) of developing cervical cancer (8).


Source of Lycopene – Saffron


Lycopene and Cardiovascular Health

Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of women in the United States. According to the American Heart Association (9), over 32 million American women have one or more types of cardiovascular disease. Studies have indicated that consuming tomatoes and tomato products containing lycopene reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease. Lycopene intake has also been found to be associated with a lower risk of myocardial infarction (10). In a study of participants from 10 European countries, it was found that consumption of lycopene in fruits and vegetables might reduce the likelihood of developing heart disease (11). In a recent report from the 2002 American College of Cardiology annual meeting, blood samples from nearly 500 women participating in the Women's Health Study were analyzed. Researchers found that women with the highest levels of plasma lycopene had a 33 percent lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease than those with the lowest blood levels (12).


Source of Lycopene – Tomatoes

Lycopene and Vision Health

Maintaining healthy vision as people age is an important factor in maintaining their independence. According to the National Eye Institute, over half of all Americans age 65 and older are afflicted with cataracts (13). In one cross-sectional survey of 372 women and women aged 66 to 75 years in Sheffield, England, the risk of cortical cataract was lowest in participants with the highest plasma concentrations of lycopene. The researchers noted the findings suggest that a diet rich in carotenoids may protect against cataract development. This conclusion was based on observational data. Human, randomized controlled trials should be conducted to verify the results (14).

Lycopene and Pregnancy

Antioxidants have been suggested to play a role in preeclampsia. In one study, placental tissue, maternal serum, and umbilical cord venous blood levels of four dietary carotenoids (including lycopene) were compared in 22 normal pregnant women and 19 women with preeclampsia. Levels of beta-carotene, canthaxanthin, and lycopene in placentas in preeclamptic women were lower than from those with a normal pregnancy, as were beta-carotene and lycopene levels of maternal serum. These findings suggest that oxidative stress or dietary antioxidants may affect preeclampsia (15).


Source of Lycopene – Sea Buckthorn

Lycopene and Longevity

Lycopene may also improve longevity in women. In a study examining plasma lycopene and longevity in nuns, lycopene and other carotenoids were measured in 94 participants, ages 77 to 99 years, living in the same convent. After six years of follow-up, only 13% of those with low plasma lycopene were still alive, while 48% of those with moderate lycopene and 70% of those with high lycopene were living (P=0.0001). Life table analyses indicated an 11-year difference in life expectancy between those with low and high plasma lycopene (16).

Lycopene Conclusion

In conclusion, lycopene, as an antioxidant, reduces oxidative stress. It may play an important role in many health concerns for women. These include breast cancer, cervical cancer, cardiovascular disease, and preeclampsia. As stated above, serum lycopene levels in women also appear to be positively correlated with longevity. It is therefore advisable for women to regularly include a food source of lycopene in their diets.

Notes from Christine:

To ensure you are getting a sufficient source of Lycopene in your daily diet, I suggest supplementing with a concentrated, high-quality source of lycopene like LycoPom by New Chapter. LycoPom contains multi-carotenoid lycopene-rich herbals including tomato, rose hips, saffron and sea buckthorn.

LycoPom delivers a combination of nature's most protective nutrients featuring a novel blend of pomegranate and lycopene containing herbal extracts. Among the class of protective compounds called carotenoids, lycopene stands as the most brilliant. More than 50 scientific studies have shown lycopene's cell protective effects on multiple organ systems. An impressive body of research illustrates that pomegranate, revered since ancient times, can be particularly effective at supporting cardiovascular, breast and prostate health.

The lycopene in LycoPom is dramatically different from conventional lycopene products. Conventional lycopene products are typically chemically extracted to yield an isolated lycopene molecule. In contrast, New Chapter delivers lycopene as part of a symphony of nutrients responsible for lycopene's benefit in nature. Our lycopene source comes from a blend of supercritically extracted lycopene rich herbals and a proprietary hexane-free tomato extract. LycoPom delivers a full complement of synergistic compounds to lycopene like phytofluene and phytoene in tomatoes and rubixanthin, beta-cryptoxanthin and zeaxanthin in rose hips.

New Chapter's pomegranate extract is derived from organically grown whole fruit and delivers a consistent and broad spectrum of protective compounds, including ellagic acid and the important class of compounds called punicalagins reported in research to be five times more potent than vitamin E. Along with the synergistic herbal extracts, each capsule of LycoPom remarkably offers the approximate equivalent of seven ounces of tomatoes and fifteen whole pomegranates.

For more information on LycoPom by New Chapter, click here.

Read another informative article about the health benefits of
Lycopene and Pomegranate,
click here.

References:

1. American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2002, 4
2. Zhang S, Tang G, Russell RM, Mayzel KA, Stampfer MJ, Willett WC, Hunter DJ. Measurement of retinoids and carotenoids in breast adipose tissue and a comparison of concentrations in breast cancer cases and control subjects. Am J Clin Nutr 1997; 66:626-632
3. Levy J, Bosin E, Feldman B, Giat Y, Miinster, Danilenko M, Sharoni Y. Lycopene is more potent inhibitor of human cancer cell proliferation than either A–carotene or beta–carotene. Nutr Cancer 1995; 24:257-266
4. Levi F, Pasche C, Lucchini F, La Vecchia C. Dietary intake of selected micronutrients and breast-cancer risk. Int'l J. of Cancer 2001; 91:260-263
5. Dorgan JF, Sowell A, Swanson CA, Potischman N, Miller R, Schussler N, Stephenson HE Jr. Relationships of serum carotenoids, retinal, a-tocopherol and selenium with breast cancer risk: results from a prospective study in Columbia, Missouri. Cancer Causes Control 1998; 9:89-97.
6. Cramer DW, Kuper H, Harlow BL, Titus-Ernstoff L. Carotenoids, antioxidants and ovarian cancer risk in pre- and postmenopausal women. Int'l J. of Cancer 2001; 94:128-134
7. Goodman MT, Kiviat N, McDuffie K, Hankin JH, Hernandez B, Wilkens LR, Franke A, Kuypers J, Kolonel LN, Nakamura J, Ing G, Branch B, Bertram CC, Kamemoto L, Sharma S, Killeen J. The association of plasma micronutrients with the risk of cervical dysplasia in Hawaii. Cancer Epidemiol Biomark Prev 7:537-544, 1998
8. Kanetsky PA, Gammon MD, Mandelblatt J, Zhang ZF, Ramsey E, Dnistrian A, Norkus EP, Wright TC Jr. Dietary intake and blood levels of lycopene: association with cervical dysplasia among non-hispanic, black women. Nutr Cancer 31:31-40, 1998.
9. American Heart Association. 2002 Heart and Stroke Statistical Update, 4
10. Sanjiv A, Rao AV. Tomato lycopene and its role in human health and chronic diseases. Can Med Assoc J 2000; 163:739-744
11. Kohlmeir L, Kark JD, Gomez-Garcia E, Martin BC, Steck SE, Kardinaal AFM, Ringstad J, Thamm M, Masaev V, Riemersma R, Martin-Moreno JM, Huttunen JK, Kok FJ. Lycopene and myocardial infarction risk in the EURAMIC study. Am J Epidemiol 1997; 146:618-626
12. PRNewswire: Study suggests lycopene may contribute to women's heart health. www.prnewswire.com. April 4, 2002.
13. National Eye Institute. Facts about cataract. http://www.nei.nih.gov, accessed 4/20/02.
14. Gale CR, Hall NF, Phillips DIW, Martyn CN. Plasma antioxidant vitamins and carotenoids and age-related cataract. Opthalmology 2001; 108:1992-1998
15. Palan PR, Mikhail MS, Romney SL. Placental and serum levels of carotenoids in preeclampsia. Obstetrics & Gynecology 2001; 98:459-462
16. Gross MD, Snowdon DA. Plasma lycopene and longevity: findings from the Nun Study. FASEB Journal 2001; A400 (abstract)

The statements contained in this article have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information contained here is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Suggestions and ideas presented in this article are for information only and should not be interpreted as medical advice, meant for diagnosing illness, or for prescriptive purposes. Readers are encouraged to consult their health care provider before beginning any cleanse, diet, detoxification program, or any supplement regimen. The information in this article is not to be used to replace the services or instructions of a physician or qualified health care practitioner.

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The statements contained on these pages have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information conained here is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Suggestions and ideas presented in this document are for information only and should not be interpreted as medical advice, meant for diagnosing illness, or for prescriptive purposes. Readers are encouraged to consult their health care provider before beginning any cleanse, diet, detoxification program, or any supplement regimen. The information in this document is not to be used to replace the services or instructions of a physician or qualified health care practitioner.
 

 

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