Lycopene and prostate cancer

Author(s): Barber NJ, Barber J

Abstract

The role of diet and dietary supplements in the development and progression of prostate cancer represents an increasingly frequent topic of discussion in the urologist's office. As access to information becomes forever easier, patients are more aware and educated about this subject than ever before. The role of antioxidants including carotenoids in all this has been the subject of great interest for some time. Lycopene, the carotenoid that gives tomatoes and other fruits and vegetables their red colour, has been of particular interest recently as regards its role in prostate cancer. The aim of this review is to briefly outline the biology and chemistry of lycopene, the scientific basis for its proposed anticancer properties and evaluate what conclusions the practicing urologist may draw from the data thus far. The media and industry have raced to encourage not only diets high in lycopene but also dietary lycopene supplements but there is probably only sufficient evidence to recommend to patients a diet rich in all vegetables and fruits of which tomatoes and tomato based products should certainly be a part.

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