- Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) is a very common disease,
which affects almost 50% men by the age of 60 years.
- Prostate hyperplasia causes urinary problems due to blockage of
the urinary tract.
- Lycopene, an antioxidant found in
tomatoes, may slow down the progression of the disease.
or an enlargement of the prostate is a part of the aging process in most men and results in urinary and bladder problems as the enlarging gland surrounds the urinary tract. Tomatoes may be the new answer to men with prostate enlargement
due to the presence of an antioxidant called lycopene in them. A recent review of 67 research studies, published in the journal Oncology and Cancer Care
Reports, suggests the potential benefits of lycopene in slowing down the progression of enlargement of the prostate.
Prof. Hiten Patel of Bart's and the Royal London Hospital lead the review team. He said, "We knew lycopene seems to slow down the development of prostate cancer
, but now it seems that it can slow down the enlargement of the prostate and development of BPH as well."
‘Tomatoes may be the new answer to prostate hyperplasia owing to the presence of lycopene in them, which inhibits the growth of the prostate.’
The review findings
are in agreement
with various studies previously performed on the subject of
lycopene and its benefits in prostate health. Research
conducted by Bristol University under Dr. Athene Lane showed that those who ate
more tomatoes were at 18% risk of prostate cancer.
A study conducted in China revealed that traditional diets rich in fruits and vegetables
significantly lowered BPH rates.
A study conducted
at the University of Hohenheim, Germany investigated the results of lycopene
supplementation in BPH patients and revealed an absence of further growth of
the prostate in patients who were supplemented with 15 mg lycopene daily for 6
months while the prostate continued to grow in those who were administered a placebo (dummy
pill). The levels of PSA were also found lowered after
The primary role of
the prostate in men is in enhancing fertility by contributing the liquid part of
the ejaculate which contains fructose, an energy source for the sperm, and PSA
(Prostate Specific Antigen), a protein which increases sperm motility. The
gland is present at the base of the urethra and the normal growth of prostatic
cells is regulated by the growth cycle and various hormones.
With age, the cells
lose their ability to respond to apoptotic (programmed cell death) signals and this results in anexcessive increase in the cell numbers and formation of
extra smooth muscle tissue which results in a larger gland.
a derivative of testosterone (male hormone) is also responsible for the growth
of the prostate. It is formed in the body by the action of 5-alpha reductase on
testosterone. Increased levels of the enzyme may cause an overgrowth of the
A disruption of the
testosterone and estrogen (female hormone) ratio due to age also causes the
prostate to grow. Moreover, factors like Insulin-like Growth Factor (IGF) and
inflammatory proteins like CRP (C-Reactive Protein) are also associated with
Patients suffering from BPH experience uncomfortable symptoms like need to urinate frequently, inability to empty the bladder, difficulty in initiating the act of urination and recurrent UTIs (Urinary Tract Infections
). Medical management is done to slow down the progression of the disease but if symptoms become too bothersome, surgical intervention may be needed.
Role of Lycopene in BPH
Lycopene is a carotenoid that gives the
tomato its red color. It has been observed in the conducted review that
lycopene not only lowers the risk of prostatic cancer but also inhibits
prostatic growth in general.
There are various
mechanisms by which lycopene influences cell growth:
- It promotes the production of
proteins which regulate the growth cycle. Reduced sensitivity of the cells
to these proteins is balanced by an increase in
the number of the proteins and the growth cycle is thus regulated.
- Lycopene also inhibits the growth
of the prostate cells by reducing the quantity of cyclin D1, a protein
which causes cell proliferation.
- Lycopene also reduces the
expression of 5-alpha reductase and results in lower levels of
dihydrotestosterone. The reduction of local androgen signaling prevents
- Lycopene also markedly reduces
growth stimulated by Insulin-like Growth Factor by inhibiting IGF
are a rich and easily available source of lycopene, the lycopene present in
them cannot be utilized as it is bound to the tomato's cell structure.
Processing and cooking of tomatoes result in the release of lycopene
and causes better absorption in the human body. Tomato paste, tomato sauce and
cooking tomatoes in healthy oils like olive oils are therefore more beneficial
than eating raw tomatoes. Supplemental pills of lycopene like LactoLycopene are
Further research is
still needed to investigate the correlation before lycopene may be advised in
routine but the review definitely sounds promising and opens a new door in the
treatment of prostatic hyperplasia.
- Lycopene Inhibits Disease Progression in Patients with Benign Prostate Hyperplasia
- Effect of Carotene and Lycopene on the Risk of Prostate Cancer: A Systematic Review and Dose-Response Meta-Analysis of Observational Studies
- Lycopene inhibits disease progression in patients with benign prostate hyperplasia.