Ward off cancer with super-nutrient lycopene: Here's the research

Wednesday, August 28, 2013 by: PF Louis
Tags: cancer prevention, lycopene, super nutrient

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(NaturalNews) Men who like pizza, pasta with red sauce, and lasagna have a new excuse to eat more of those dishes upon discovering that lycopene in tomato sauce promotes prostate health. This news has been around for some time.

Recent testing with lycopene from mostly tomato or tomato sauce sources has discovered that there it exhibits plenty of anti-cancer activity, especially regarding prostate cancer. Some tests have determined the best sources to provide the most assimilable form of lycopene as well.

Lycopene is highest in some red or orange plant foods, including tomatoes, watermelon, pink grapefruit, guavas, papaya, and rose hips. Sun dried tomatoes contain the highest amounts of lycopene. [1]

Ironically, tomatoes cooked into pastes or sauces have more lycopene than raw tomatoes. That's the inverse of the food-losing-its-nutritional-value-when-cooked rule.

Although lycopene is a carotenoid, it doesn't convert into vitamin A. It lacks a certain molecular ring which disables that conversion. But in exchange, lycopene's antioxidant potential is enhanced.

And there are even more anti-cancer properties beyond reducing oxidative stress before it causes damage.

Multi-targeted therapy of cancer by lycopene

That's the name of an academic article/letter published in 2008 in the international journal, Cancer Letters. This paper reviewed several different studies, in vitro (glass/petri dish) and in vivo (live animal/human), that tested lycopene's effect on cancer cells.

Here's a major extract from that paper:

Prospective and retrospective epidemiological studies indicating an inverse relationship between lycopene intake and prostate cancer risk have been supported by in vitro and in vivo experiments showing that oral lycopene is bioavailable, accumulates in prostate tissue and is localized to the nucleus of prostate epithelial cells. [2]

They also noted testing that demonstrated lycopene goes beyond serving as an antioxidant that synthesizes cytoprotective enzymes in its anti-cancer activity.

Lycopene also induces apoptosis (cellular suicide) in cancer cells, which become cancerous partly because they lack the apoptosis programming that other cells have in order to make way for new cells. This leads to cancer cells' "immortality."

This academic paper from the University of Illinois College of Pharmacy also mentions testing that has supported lycopene's function with cancer antiproliferation and anti-metastatic activity.

All the tests reviewed combine to validate lycopene's "multi-targeted" theraputic function with prostate cancer, which also proves lycopene supplementation's safety. [3]

Nevertheless, the paper concludes with the familiar theme of more "carefully designed and adequately powered clinical studies of lycopene are still needed to confirm its efficacy as a chemoprevention [cancer killing] agent."

Choosing your lycopene

Two other tests help show the way for choosing the most potent form of lycopene. One food test concerned itself with testing tomato sauces using different heating techniques that produced compound isomer* variations.

One type of heat induced isomer managed to create higher lycopene bio-availability than usual. Their purpose was to determine how to create tomato sauces with even more lycopene potency. [4]

Another food test determined that tangerine tomatoes, which are yellow/orange rather than red, also provide that same type of lycopene isomer* that induces greater bio-availability. [5]

Time to eat

Of course, cooked sauces, tomato pastes, and sun dried variety always provide more lycopene than raw tomatoes. And now it appears that tangerine tomato sources are even better.

But beware the sources. Commercially raised tomatoes have their fair share of chemical residue. So choose organic ready made sauces or tomato pastes, sauces, and chunks from organic tomatoes to make your own sauce.

And whenever you wish to enjoy raw tomatoes of any color, in addition to buying organic, add a fat or two to enhance lycopene absorption. Lycopene is fat soluble. [6]

One way is by adding pure organic virgin olive oil. A few slices of nutrient intense avocado adds another good, healthy fat to the mix.

Sources for this article include:

* Online Oxford Dictionary - Isomer: Chemistry - each of two or more compounds with the same formula but a different arrangement of atoms in the molecule and different properties.







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