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Lycopene's Health Benefits ~ [Issue 0300-1]  Wellness Weekly
 Mar 08, 2000 14:00 PST 
Effective Against Cancer, Infections, and Degenerative Diseases

Lycopene is the potent antioxidant responsible for the red color of
tomatoes. It is also found in high concentrations in red and pink
grapefruit, and in watermelon. Researchers at the United States
Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) have
found that lycopene, in supplement form, is equal to lycopene from
tomato juice in bioavailability. ARS epidemiologists have noted
ingestion of lycopene-rich foods such as tomatoes and many tomato
products is associated with reduced risk for certain degenerative
diseases. In tests, volunteers on a 3-week diet high in tomato juice
had a 33 percent increase in immune response as measured by the
ability of their immune system's T-cells to multiply. (T-cells play a
critical role in the body's natural defense against foreign organisms
and cancer cells.)

In another study sponsored by the National Institute of Environmental
Health Sciences, blood levels of lycopene were measured in patients
with lung cancer. This study found the patients with lung cancer to
have lycopene significantly lower than normal levels. They also found
subjects with the lowest lycopene levels to have a cancer risk about
3 times higher than those in the study with the highest blood levels
of lycopene. Among African-Americans, the cancer risk was about eight
times higher for those with the lowest versus the highest levels of
lycopene. In a separate focus on the effects of tobacco, smokers had
about four times as high a risk of getting lung cancer when they fell
into the group with the lowest blood levels of lycopene.

The National Cancer Society suggests that eating just two servings of
foods with tomato sauce on a weekly basis could reduce prostate
cancer risk significantly, owing to the lycopene content. In separate
recent review articles, investigators have noted a lowered cancer
risk at various body sites with diets high in tomato intake, or among
individuals with high blood levels of lycopene. They also reported
the degree of lowered risk to be statistically significant on 35 of
the 72 studies surveyed. Cancer risk reduction was greatest for
cancers of the prostate, lung and stomach, and directionally
suggestive for the pancreas, colon, rectum, esophagus, oral cavity,
breast and cervix. Of 46 vegetables, fruits and related products
reviewed, the protective effect from prostate cancer was greatest for
tomato sauce, tomatoes and pizza, all prime sources of lycopene.

A recent study reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
further addresses the immune-supportive potential of lycopene in
helping protect white blood cells from effects of damaging free
radicals. After 21 days on a diet containing tomato puree versus a
tomato-free diet, blood levels of lycopene had increased
significantly in the group on the tomato-component diet and had
decreased significantly in the control tomato-free group. Those in
the tomato-product group demonstrated between a 33 to 42 percent
reduction in damage incurred by their lymphocyte white blood cells,
cells critical in fighting infections. The protective effect against
white blood cell damage was thought to derive from lycopene's
antioxidative protection of white blood cell DNA.

For information about a premium-quality supplement that contains
lycopene, please visit
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