Written by Gabriele Dennert and the CAM-Cancer Consortium.
Updated July 26, 2013


Abstract and key points

  • Lycopene is a carotenoid and forms the red pigment in fruit, such as tomatoes or apricots.
  • Two systematic reviews summarize the clinical evidence for prostate cancer prevention and prostate cancer treatment.
  • Evidence is insufficient to recommend or discourage additional intake of lycopene.
  • In men, lycopene seems to be generally safe.

This summary is currently (April 2018) being updated, the version published here was last updated in July 2013. 

Lycopene is a carotenoid that forms the red pigment in fruit, such as tomatoes or apricots.

It has been suggested that lycopene exhibits antioxidant activities, inhibits cell proliferation and inducts apoptosis, thus protecting against cancer (in particular prostate cancer) and providing health benefits for cancer patients. The additional intake of processed tomato products (juice), functional foods enriched with lycopene, or nutritional supplements is marketed on the basis of such claims.

This summary concerns the supranutritional intake (i.e. in addition to the content of the daily diet) of lycopene in the form of supplements or functional foods.

Clinical evidence is available from two systematic reviews – one for cancer prevention and one for treatment – in men and prostate cancer only. Both reviews concluded that there is insufficient evidence to support the recommendation of lycopene for prostate cancer prevention or treatment.

In men, the ingestion of lycopene seems to be generally safe.

Read about the regulation, supervision and reimbursement of herbal medicine at NAFKAMs website CAM Regulation.

Citation Gabriele Dennert, CAM-Cancer Consortium. Lycopene [online document]. http://ws.cam-cancer.org/The-Summaries/Herbal-products/Lycopene. July 26, 2013.


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