Lycopene Effective Adjunctive Prostate Cancer Treatment
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer found in men over the age of 50
years, with more than 200,000 new cases each year in the United States. The
cause of prostate cancer, like many other cancers, is unknown; however,
some studies suggest alterations in testosterone metabolism may play a role
in its development. Prostate cancer is generally slow growing and may not
cause any symptoms until late in the disease. Symptoms may include frequent
or painful urination, dribbling after urination, sensation of incomplete
emptying of the bladder, or blood in the urine. The symptoms of prostate
cancer are similar to those of a non-cancerous condition called benign
prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), so men experiencing these symptoms should
consult their physician for an accurate diagnosis.
In the new study, 54 men with advanced prostate cancer were randomly
assigned to have surgical removal of the testicles (orchidectomy) alone or
orchidectomy plus oral supplementation with 4 mg of lycopene a day.
Measurements of PSA (a blood marker of prostate cancer activity), bone
scans, and urinary flow were taken initially and every three months for two
years. Men receiving lycopene started on the day of their surgery.
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After six months, PSA had significantly decreased in both groups,
indicating a reduction in prostate cancer activity. However, PSA levels in
those receiving lycopene were more than 65% lower than in those who did not
receive lycopene. After two years, PSA levels in the lycopene treatment
group had fallen into the normal range, while those who only underwent
surgery still had PSA levels more than twice the upper limit of normal.
Urinary symptoms significantly improved in both groups, but better
improvement was again observed in the lycopene group. The lycopene group
also experienced less bone pain. The survival rates after two years in the
lycopene plus surgery group and surgery-only groups were 87% and 78%,
respectively, a statistically significant difference. No adverse side
effects were observed in men taking lycopene.
Lycopene is one of a group of compounds called carotenoids. It is found in
high amounts in tomatoes. The findings of this study corroborate the
findings of other similar studies examining the effectiveness of lycopene
in the treatment of prostate cancer. However, the amount used in the
current study (4 mg per day) was substantially less than the amounts used
in other studies (30 mg per day). It may also help stimulate the immune
system and has been shown to cause cancer cells to die on their own.
Although more research is needed to clarify what amount of lycopene is most
effective, men with prostate cancer may benefit from taking daily lycopene
supplements. Eating one moderately sized tomato a day also provides
approximately 4 mg of lycopene. Other tomato products, such as an 8-ounce
portion of tomato juice or tomato paste may provide up to 25 mg of
Healthnotes Newswire (December 11, 2003)-Men with prostate cancer who take supplemental lycopene in addition to surgical removal of the testicles may experience less active disease, less bone pain, and live longer than those who only have surgical removal of the testicles, according to a new study in British Journal of Urology International (2003;92:375-8). This is exciting news for millions of men who have to undergo aggressive treatment for advanced prostate cancer.
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