Lycopene in the chemoprevention of cancer and cardiovascular diseases

Dariusz Wawrzyniak, Olga Wawrzyniak, Piotr Chomczyński, Stefan Oziewicz, Jan Barciszewski

Abstract


Lycopene is an organic chemical compound (unsaturated hydrocarbon, alkene, C40H56) containing 13 double bonds where 11 are conjugated. It belongs to the family of natural pigments (carotenoids) synthesized by plants, fungi, bacteria and algae. Lycopene occurs in tomatoes and fruit guava, pink grapefruit, watermelon and papaya. It is one of the most potent antioxidants scavangers of reactive oxygen species (ROS) which modify proteins, lipids, sugars, and DNA. These damages can lead to chronic diseases, cancer and aging. Lycopene is relatively heat-stable substance, which subjected to thermal processes increases its bioavailability in the body. The function of the lycopene in tumor cells is to prevent damage to DNA, modulation of apoptosis and inhibition of induction of migration and invasiveness. Lycopene shows beneficial effects in cancers of the stomach, colon and lung. In the case of primary liver cancer, it causes a delay of malignant cell proliferation and reduces the risk of infection of the original tumor carcinogenic hepatitis C. Lycopene supplementation improves the response to standard therapy of brain tumors (glioblastoma multiforme), and increases the median survival time of tumor recurrence. Lycopene can be used in the prevention and treatment of not only cancer, but also cardiovascular diseases and lipid disorders. In summary lycopene act differentially on the various stages of the cell cycle and antioxidant properties. It has a high therapeutic potential and health enhancing role in human nutrition.

Keywords


lycopene; chemoprevention; cancer; cardiovascular diseases (CVD)

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