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Lycopene Supplementation Benefits Men with BPH

A recent German study found that Lycopene, a carotenoid mainly consumed from tomatoes, may help inhibit progression of BPH.

BPH (Benign Prostate Hyperplasia) is a common disease of elderly men and a risk factor for developing prostate cancer later in life.  It affects approximately 50% of men in their 50s with increasing prevalence up to 90% of men in their 80s and older.

In epidemiological studies, regular intakes of lycopene and high blood levels of the carotenoid have been associated with a reduced risk of developing prostate cancer.  It has been suggested that there may be a possible beneficial role of lycopene in patients diagnosed with BPH.  In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study, German scientists investigated whether intake of lycopene supplements inhibits disease progression in patients with BPH, improving clinical diagnostic markers and symptoms of BPH.

Forty patients, aged between 45-70 yrs with BPH were recruited to participate in this study. They were randomly assigned to receive either a lycopene supplement (15 mg/day) or a placebo for 6 months.  The effects of the intervention on carotenoid status, clinical diagnostic markers of prostate proliferation, and symptoms of the disease were assessed at baseline, and at 1, 3, and 6 months intervals.

After 6 months, lycopene supplementation decreased PSA levels in men, whereas there was no change in the placebo group.  The plasma lycopene concentration increased in the group taking lycopene but other plasma carotenoids were not affected.

Clinical examinations for enlargement of the prostate in the placebo group showed 24% and 27% increases in prostate volume and weight.  In contrast, in the lycopene group, slight and nonsignificant 5% and 3% increases in volume and weight occurred.  Prostate enlargement tended to be slower in the lycopene group compared with the placebo group.

Symptoms of the disease, as assessed via the International Prostate Symptom Score questionnaire, were improved in both groups with a significantly greater effect in men taking lycopene supplements.

In conclusion, this study indicates that lycopene supplementation at a dose of 15 mg/day for 6 months, may inhibit disease progression and may ameliorate symptoms in BPH patients.

Source: Silke Schwarz et al.; J. Nutr. 2008; 138: 49–

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