In today's era, cancer is one of the leading health concerns around the globe. More than 100 different types of cancer and tumours have put the millions life at stake. Out of various underlying reasons, oxidative stress is a significant cause of the development and progression of cancer. The oxidative damage can cause neoplasia (unrestricted buildup of cells) and mutations.
However, increased intake of vegetables and fruits is suggested to lowers the risk and incidence of various cancers. The food items are a great source ofphytochemicals which playa significant role in mitigating destruction caused by oxidative stress. Recently, one such phytochemical filch the great attention of researchers in the field of Oncology. This phytochemical is lycopene.
What is lycopene?
Lycopene is a member of carotenoids (family of pigmented molecules that impart colour to various fruits and vegetables, especially red, orange and yellow).
Lycopene imparts red colour to many fruits. It is a highly unsaturated open straight-chain hydrogen compound that exhibits significantantioxidant, immune modulation, gene function regulation, and carcinogen metabolism actions.
Lycopene health benefits
Lycopene participates in the prevention of primary and secondary cardiovascular diseases. Lycopene exhibitspotent antihypertensive (prevents high blood pressure), antiatherosclerosis (prevents fat deposition in the blood vessels), antioxidant (inhibits free radical cell damage), antiplatelet (stops platelet aggregation and unwanted clot formation inside the body), and protective endothelial properties. Lycopene also helps to improve the metabolic profile and lowers arterial stiffness.
Lycopene for cancer prevention
Other than the rest of its benefits, lycopene also exhibits significant anti-cancer effects. This property of lycopene is due to its potent antioxidant, anti-proliferative, anti-apoptotic, anti-inflammatory, anti-metastatic, and chemoprotective properties.
Lycopene found to be beneficial against various cancer cell lines, for instance, prostate, colon, lung, endometrial, and mammary cancer cells.
Let's take a broad look atthe role of lycopene in cancer prevention:
- It satiates singlet oxygen, scavenges free radicals, and precludes the oxidative damage, thereby reduces the potential risk of transforming normal cells into cancerous/tumorous cells.
- It helps in expulsion of foreign substances and carcinogens out of the body by stimulating hepatic quinine reductase and cytochrome P450.
- It impedes the G1 and S-phase (synthesis phase) of the cancer cell cycle and phosphorylation of anti-oncogenes.
- It also found to hinder the activities of matrix metalloproteinases-2 (MMP-2), MMP-9, and platelet-derived growth factor, which helps to reduce the tumour invasion, growth, and metastasis.
- Ultimately, lycopene also helps in increasing gap Junction communications, modulating carcinogen-metabolizing enzymes, gene functions, anti-proliferative action, anti-lipid peroxidation actions, and immune function.
All these mechanisms initiated by lycopene molecules aid in restricting the progression and metastasis of tumour cells. Therefore, food for cancer patients must contain this phytochemical.
Sources of lycopene
Tomatoes are the best source of lycopene. Other than that, guava, papaya, grapefruit, watermelon, sweet red peppers, red cabbage, mangoes, and asparagus contain significant lycopene content.
- Cooked tomatoes and vegetables release a higher amount of lycopene than the raw ones. Cooking breaks downs the cell wall helps in releasing lycopene, which causes better absorption.
- Also, as lycopene is a fat-soluble molecule, its absorption improves significantly in the presence of oil. Therefore cooking lycopene foods in oil can increase its content for your body.
Keep these things in mind and make lycopene-rich foods an important part of your daily diet.
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