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Clinical Benefits of Lycopene in Cancer Patients

Mar 15, 2020

Highlights

Eating a diet rich in tomatoes, a source of a powerful antioxidant red pigment carotenoid, lycopene, has shown clinical benefits in improving efficacy of docetaxel in castration resistant prostate cancer. Another clinical study has shown that lycopene (found in tomatoes) supplement can reduce the cisplatin-induced kidney damage (a chemotherapy side effect associated with use of Cisplatin) – a potential natural remedy for cancer treatment induced side effect. Including tomatoes rich in lycopene as part of prostate cancer patients’ diet may be beneficial. For Cancer, Right Nutrition / Diet Matters.



Lycopene

Eating healthier by eating a lot more fruits and vegetables is obviously important for maintaining good health, but clinical research has explicitly evaluated if consuming specific foods can help with either lowering cancer risk or improving the effect of certain chemotherapy drugs on specific cancers. Studies have been done to evaluate the clinical benefits of Lycopene in cancer. Lycopene is a natural red pigment, a carotenoid, that is part of fruits and vegetables, that most of us do not know much about despite consuming it almost on a daily basis. We all eat tomatoes as part of our diets and tomatoes get their red color due to being a rich source of lycopene. Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant and has shown benefits for cancer patients.

Lycopene Use in Cancer Patients (Tomatoes for kidney damage)

Benefits of Lycopene in Cancer

Prostate cancer is a very common cancer among men. This type of cancer is heightened or fueled by testosterone and other male sex hormones which is why the therapy for prostate cancer involves lowering the hormone level in the patient by chemical or surgical means. However, if the cancer is able to metastasize and spread through more parts of the body, then the cancer is called castrate resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) because in this case, lowering the patient’s sex hormone count will have no antitumor effect on the growing cancer. The current most effective drug for CRPC on the market is a chemo drug called Docetaxel, but even then, it is only able to increase patient lifespans by an average of two months. In 2011, a study was done by researchers from the University of California, Irvine, testing out how carotenoids such as lycopene could enhance the effect of Docetaxel (DTX/DXL) on prostate cancer. The researchers found that lycopene supplement along with docetaxel had more pronounced growth inhibitory effects than that of docetaxel treatment alone. Lycopene significantly enhanced the antitumor efficacy of docetaxel by approximately 38%. (Tang Y et al, Neoplasia, 2011) In recent years, additional studies have confirmed the results of this study to be accurate and also shown a reduced risk of prostate cancer with higher lycopene consumption. (Chen P et al, Medicine (Baltimore), 2015)

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Another study conducted in 2017 by researchers from the Shahrekord University of Medical Sciences in Iran looked at the effects that lycopene (found in tomatoes) could have on cisplatin induced kidney damage (nephropathy) in patients. Cisplatin is a strong, toxic chemotherapy drug which is used to treat multiple cancers. However, since this drug affects both cancer and non cancer cells, it has to be used in limited doses otherwise it can cause other major health problems in the body. One common side effect of Cisplatin is nephropathy, which is caused by damage to blood vessels inside the kidney. Therefore, the researchers of the study wanted to see if lycopene was able to decrease this toxic effect of a drug like cisplatin. After conducting a double-blind randomized trial, by splitting 120 patients into two groups, they found that “Lycopene (from tomatoes) can be effective in decreasing the complications due to cisplatin-induced nephrotoxicity (kidney damage) through affecting some markers of renal function” (Mahmoodnia L et al, J Nephropathol. 2017).

Conclusion


In conclusion, patients with prostate cancer or who are currently going through chemotherapy involving the drug Cisplatin should consider increasing their consumptions of red vegetables, especially tomatoes, in order to potentially aid their recovery and better their chances of survival.


Cancer patients often have to deal with different chemotherapy side effects which affect their quality of life and look out for alternative therapies for cancer. Taking the right nutrition and supplements based on scientific considerations (avoiding guesswork and random selection) is the best natural remedy for cancer and treatment related side-effects.


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