Lycopene: why women should care

Lycopene, a potent antioxidant found in tomatoes, pink grapefruit and apricots, has earned a reputation for its role in the prevention of certain cancers, particularly prostate cancer. Now women may be taking an interest in lycopene, especially those at risk for developing fibroid tumours of the uterus.

Common in about 25% of women, fibroid tumours can cause heavy bleeding, pain, miscarriage and infertility. Until now, treatment involved surgery. Last April, researchers reported data showing lycopene successfully reduced the size and incidence of fibroid tumours in animal research.

Their 10-month research project involved supplementing the diet of Japanese quails either with none, 100 mg or 200 mg of lycopene per kilogram of food. (Unlike most animals, Japanese quails spontaneously develop fibroid tumours.) After the project, the supplemented quails had fewer tumours than the control quails, and the average size of those tumours was significantly smaller in both lycopene groups, especially the group given the larger dose.

Lycopene supplementation also increased the birds’ levels of vitamins C, E and A, and lowered their homocysteine levels — all positive biomarkers in the prevention of uterine
cervical cancer.

Sources: Nutricentre.com: Research & Review May 2004; Nat-e-News Newsletter Edition 60: 20-30 Apr 2004