PHILADELPHIALycopene, the phytonutrient that produces the red
color in tomatoes, showed beneficial effects on the prostate cancers
of a group of men scheduled for prostatectomy, researchers reported
at the American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting.
To our knowledge, this is the first report from a randomized,
prospective clinical trial showing its efficacy against prostate
cancer, said Omer Kucuk, MD, professor of medicine and
oncology, Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute, Wayne State
University, Detroit. Previous reports, he said, were largely
epidemiologic studies showing an association between consumption of
tomato products and decreased prostate cancer risk.
The researchers studied 26 men with localized prostate cancer who
were scheduled to undergo radical prostatectomy. The study
participants were randomly assigned to receive either 15 mg of
lycopene as a pure tomato extract (Lyc-O-Mato capsules from LycoRed
Company, Beer-Sheva, Israel) twice daily or no intervention for 3
weeks before the surgery. The glands were analyzed following surgery
to determine any differences between the two study groups.
Dr. Kucuk said that serum and tissue lycopene levels increased
significantly in the intervention group. The treated group had
smaller tumors: 80% had tumors 4 cm3 or less in volume vs 45% of
controls. In the treatment group, tumors were more likely to be
confined to the prostate (73% vs 18%).
Decline in PSA Levels
Serum PSA levels declined by 18% in those who received lycopene, Dr.
Kucuk said. In addition, the tumors in patients who consumed lycopene
showed signs of regression and decreased malignancy, ie, less
glandular involvement by prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PIN)
and an increase in the expression of biomarkers of differentiation.
The results suggest that lycopene as tomato extract may not
only help prevent prostate cancer, but also may be useful in treating
prostate cancer, Dr. Kucuk said at a press conference. However,
on the basis of this one small study, he would not recommend that
men go to nutrition stores and supplement their diet with
lycopene. As you know, there may be other studies in the future that
may not find the same beneficial effect, he said.