Lycopene shows anti-cancer activity because of the anti-oxidant nature of the compound. Lycopene was associated with lower risk of prostate cancer in males. Lycopene belongs to carotenoid family, which gives red, orange and yellow colours to fruits and vegetables. Tomato, guava, apricots, watermelon, grapefruit and papaya are major source of Lycopene for human beings. Humans or animals don't have the ability to produce Lycopene in our body; therefore we depend on fruits and vegetables for Lycopene. Today many researches are conducted to study the properties of Lycopene, such as anti-oxidant and anti-cancer.
Lycopene as Anti-oxidant:
Scientists say that Lycopene is a strong anti-oxidant agent because they are not converted into Vitamin A in human body. That is Lycopene have greater ability to convert dangerous and destructive oxygen ions or free oxygen produced during the metabolism in cells of the body. Free oxygen has the capacity to destroy the cell components; they also play a major role in inducing DNA mutations. This may in turn result in tumor or cancer in the body.
Free oxygen molecules also destroy the cell membrane integrity by reacting with polyunsaturated fatty acids which are present in the cell membrane. By changing the structure of cell membrane the fluidity and integrity and also the selective permeability of the cell membrane is destroyed, leading to the abnormal condition of the cell.
Researchers say that as we grow old the concentration of free radicals or free oxygen concentration increases in the body. This may be one of the reasons for appearance of some types of cancer in individuals in their 50s or so.
Lycopene and Anti-cancer:
Many researchers are conducting studies to understand the correlation between Lycopene and its activity as anti-cancer agent. Laboratory studies show that the Lycopene helps in slowing the tumor growth in the brain and breast tissues of animals. Further studies are being conducted to know whether it holds same on human cancer type.
Studies also show that the Lycopene also decreases the prostate cancer incident in males. Consumption of tomato or tomato based products like ketchup reduces the incidents of prostate cancer in male humans. Also in one of the study Lycopene supplement also reduced the rapid growth of prostate cancer in men.
Recently scientists showed that the Lycopene reduces the incidence of prostate cancer in men and also it reduces the rapid growth of cancer in patients with prostate cancer. This is because Lycopene also has the antiangiogenesis property. During the study Lycopene inhibited the formation of new blood vessels in prostate cancer patient. Since cancer cells divide rapidly, they need more amount of oxygen and energy for survival. These materials are supplied through newly formed blood vessels. When the Lycopene phytochemical inhibit the formation of new blood vessels, the cancer cells will starve for the food and oxygen and at last will lead to the death of cancer cells.
Further research and study are required to find out the anti-cancer activity of Lycopene in human. If the research shows the positive results it will be a boon to mankind as Lycopene is cheap and readily available compound, the cancer treatment will become affordable to one and all.
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