A study focused on a group of antioxidants, including lycopene, resulted in some beneficial new findings. In previous studies researchers discovered that a high lycopene intake can decrease the risk of developing numerous types of cancer including lung, pancreatic, and bladder. A recent study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition by Dr. Martha Slattery et al., zeroed in on the antioxidants B-carotene, B-carotene, B-cryptoxanthin, lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin to determine to what degree they are able to protect against specific types and stages of colon cancer. The research resulted in exciting findings centered on the discovery that lutein creates a significant impact in tempering colon cancer.
Study participants consisted of 1,993 subjects from ages 30 to 79 years old previously diagnosed with colon cancer and a control group of 2,410 cancer free patients. Subjects reported what foods they had consumed during a specific time period two years prior or two years before their diagnosis for the cancer patients. Out of the carotenoids included in the study, lutein and zeaxanthin illustrated a protective effect against colon cancer. Young people experienced the most dramatic results.
Vitamin E may be the most widely recognized antioxidant but research shows that lycopene is 100 times more powerful as a “singlet oxygen” scavenger than vitamin E, zeaxanthin has 10 times the antioxidant power of vitamin E, and leutin is 8 times stronger than vitamin E. Authors of the new colon cancer/antioxidant study believe the protective capabilities illustrated by the carotenoids can be attributed to their efficient destruction of oxygen radical species. They also yield a strengthening effect on cell membranes, which are particularly vulnerable to carcinogens in the colon.
Spinach, broccoli, tomatoes, lettuce, celery, greens, eggs, oranges and orange juice accounted for the main sources of lutein ingested by participants. Lycopene is plentiful in tomatoes (including tomato sauce) and guavas. In addition, you can boost the level of antioxidants you ingest from food sources by including supplements in your dietary regime. This will help ensure you ingest sufficient amounts in order to reap the full potential of their protective benefits.
Source: Barilla, M.S., Jean. “The Nutrition Superbook: The Antioxidants.” Keats Publishing, Inc.
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2000; 71:575-82