Is classed as a non-provitamin A carotenoid, lycopene the red pigment found in tomatoes, watermelon or pink grapefruit. It is associated with a number of health benefits including helping with maintaining a good circulation, reducing cardiovascular risks and the likelihood of developing cancer.
It should be pointed out, not every fruit or vegetable which has red color also contains lycopene. The highest amount can be found in fresh tomatoes, but even after processing, they still retain a considerable concentration.
News that this compound is good for the body is not new. There have been several studies throughout the years highlighting the link between lycopene and skin health or bone mineral density.
More recent research indicates a possible correlation between lycopene and some forms of cancer. “Inverse associations between tomato consumption and risk of gastric cancer were observed in all these diverse populations”, concludes the paper published in the Journal of National Cancer Institute.
As referenced from the above-mentioned research, the group of Italian doctors found that “Intake of tomatoes and tomato-based products and plasma levels of lycopene, a carotenoid found predominantly in tomatoes, have been relatively consistently associated with a lower risk of a variety of cancers”.
Among the types of cancer tested were: lung, stomach, prostate, breast, oral cavity, pancreas, and esophagus.
As always, a lot more data needs to be gathered and then controlled testing done to corroborate the results, but the findings so far seem hopeful.
This could be an important step for finding more natural ways of addressing serious diseases like cancer.