Phase II randomized clinical trial of lycopene supplementation before radical prostatectomy

Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2001 Aug;10(8):861-8.


An inverse association has been observed between dietary intake of lycopene and the risk of prostate cancer. We investigated the effects of lycopene supplementation in patients with prostate cancer. Twenty-six men with newly diagnosed, clinically localized (14 T(1) and 12 T(2)) prostate cancer were randomly assigned to receive 15 mg of lycopene (n = 15) twice daily or no supplementation (n = 11) for 3 weeks before radical prostatectomy. Biomarkers of differentiation and apoptosis were assessed by Western blot analysis on benign and malignant parts of the prostate gland. Prostatectomy specimens were entirely embedded, step-sectioned, and evaluated for pathological stage, Gleason score, volume of cancer, and extent of high-grade prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia. Plasma levels of lycopene, insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), IGF binding protein-3, and prostate-specific antigen were measured at baseline and after 3 weeks of supplementation or observation. Eleven (73%) subjects in the intervention group and two (18%) subjects in the control group had no involvement of surgical margins and/or extra-prostatic tissues with cancer (P = 0.02). Twelve (84%) subjects in the lycopene group and five (45%) subjects in the control group had tumors <4 ml in size (P = 0.22). Diffuse involvement of the prostate by high-grade prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia was present in 10 (67%) subjects in the intervention group and in 11 (100%) subjects in the control group (P = 0.05). Plasma prostate-specific antigen levels decreased by 18% in the intervention group, whereas they increased by 14% in the control group (P = 0.25). Expression of connexin 43 in cancerous prostate tissue was 0.63 +/- 0.19 absorbance in the lycopene group compared with 0.25 +/- 0.08 in the control group (P = 0.13). Expression of bcl-2 and bax did not differ significantly between the two study groups. IGF-1 levels decreased in both groups (P = 0.0002 and P = 0.0003, respectively). The results suggest that lycopene supplementation may decrease the growth of prostate cancer. However, no firm conclusions can be drawn at this time because of the small sample size.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Aged
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis*
  • Carotenoids / pharmacology*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Humans
  • Lycopene
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prostatectomy*
  • Prostatic Intraepithelial Neoplasia / pathology
  • Prostatic Intraepithelial Neoplasia / prevention & control*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / surgery


  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Carotenoids
  • Lycopene