Effects of supplementing a low-carotenoid diet with a tomato extract for 2 weeks on endogenous levels of DNA single strand breaks and immune functions in healthy non-smokers and smokers

Carcinogenesis. 2004 Dec;25(12):2373-8. doi: 10.1093/carcin/bgh249. Epub 2004 Aug 12.


Increased consumption of tomato products is associated with a decreased risk of cancer. The present study was performed to investigate whether consumption of a tomato oleoresin extract for 2 weeks can affect endogenous levels of DNA single strand breaks in peripheral blood lymphocytes in healthy non-smokers and smokers. We also assessed, the effect of the tomato oleoresin extract on various immunological functions of peripheral blood mononuclear cells. A double-blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled study design was used. Over a period of 2 weeks 15 non-smokers and 12 smokers were given three tomato oleoresin extract capsules daily (each containing 4.88 mg lycopene, 0.48 mg phytoene, 0.44 mg phytofluene and 1.181 mg alpha-tocopherol). The control group received placebos. The baseline level of endogenous DNA damage for non-smokers was slightly (13%) and non-significantly (P = 0.44) lower than that of smokers. Placebo supplementation of non-smokers and smokers for 2 weeks did not significantly affect lycopene plasma levels or DNA damage in either group. Intervention with tomato oleoresin extract resulted in significant increases in total plasma lycopene and resulted in decreased levels of DNA strand breaks of approximately 32 (non-smokers) and 39% (smokers). However, this effect was not statistically significant in either group (P = 0.09 for non-smokers and P = 0.12 for smokers). Analysis of the distribution pattern of DNA strand breaks showed a statistically significant (P < 0.05) increase in the number of comets in class 0 (undamaged) and a decrease in classes 1 and 2 (damaged) after the tomato oleoresin extract intervention in non-smokers. The changes in the smoker group were not statistically significant. Treatment with the tomato extract had no effect on lymphocyte proliferation, NK cell activity, interleukin (IL)-2 production and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)alpha production, but it significantly reduced IL-4 production in smokers (P = 0.009).

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Carotenoids / administration & dosage*
  • Carotenoids / blood
  • DNA Damage*
  • DNA, Single-Stranded / drug effects*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Humans
  • Immune System / physiology*
  • Interleukin-2 / metabolism
  • Interleukin-4 / metabolism
  • Killer Cells, Natural / metabolism
  • Lycopene
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Plant Extracts / administration & dosage*
  • Smoking*
  • Solanum lycopersicum*
  • Survival Rate
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism


  • DNA, Single-Stranded
  • Interleukin-2
  • Plant Extracts
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Interleukin-4
  • Carotenoids
  • Lycopene