Lycopene, Vitamin E May Fight Prostate Cancer

Recent research has found that lycopene—an antioxidant found in tomatoes— and vitamin E may reduce the risk of prostate cancer by attacking key aspects of the cancer’s genetics.
( [email protected] ) Apr 20, 2004 09:14 AM EDT

Lycopene helped kill tumors

The study, published online in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), hoped to build on past studies research into the cancer-fighting effects of lycopene. Past studies have shown that men with a high consumption of tomatoes and tomato-based products are less prone to prostate cancer. Men eating four to five tomato based-dishes per week were found to be protected by 25% compared to men eating tomatoes only rarely.

The German researchers fed rats lycopene, vitamin E, a combination of both or a placebo mixture for four weeks, and then injected prostate cancer cells into the animals. These cancer cells grew into tumors in the following two weeks. Feeding the subjects lycopene and vitamin E enhanced the killing rate of tumor cells, which was shown by larger areas of dead tissue in the prostate growths.

Affects tumors’ genetics

Scientists also charted lycopene and vitamin E’s affect on the genetics of the tumors. Results showed that both nutrients affected gene expression directly in the tumors, targeting key enzymes in the tumors and disrupting their inner workings, causing cellular disruption and tissue death.

Prostate cancer is one of the biggest cancer killers in industrial countries and affects more than 500,000 men worldwide every year. This number is expected to increase with the aging population.


1. U. Siler; Barella, L., Goralczyk, R., Lein, M., Schnorr, J., Spitzer, V., Wertz, K., “Lycopene and Vitamin E Interfere with Autocrine/Paracrine Loops in the Dunning Prostate Cancer Model,” FASEB J. published Apr 14, 2004, doi:10.1096/fj.03-1116fje.