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What is it?

Lycopene is a type of organic pigment called a carotenoid. It is related to beta-carotene and gives some vegetables and fruits (e.g., tomatoes) a red color.

Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that might help protect cells from damage. It's found in tomato, watermelon, red orange, pink grapefruit, apricot, rose hip, and guava.

Lycopene is used for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cancer, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support most of these uses.

How effective is it?

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.

The effectiveness ratings for LYCOPENE are as follows:

Possibly effective for...

  • Prostate cancer. Taking lycopene by mouth might slightly reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer. It might also slightly reduce the risk of prostate cancer returning.

Possibly ineffective for...

  • Bladder cancer. People who eat more lycopene in their diet don't seem to have a lower risk for bladder cancer.
  • Diabetes. People who eat more lycopene in their diet don't seem to have a lower risk of developing diabetes. Also, people with diabetes who eat more lycopene don't seem to have a lower risk of dying from heart disease.
There is interest in using lycopene for a number of other purposes, but there isn't enough reliable information to say whether it might be helpful.

Is it safe?

When taken by mouth: Lycopene is commonly consumed in certain fruits and vegetables. When taken in supplements, doses of 15-45 mg daily have been safely used for up to 6 months.

Special precautions & warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Lycopene is likely safe during pregnancy and breast-feeding when eaten in typical food amounts. There isn't enough reliable information to know if lycopene supplements are safe to use when pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and stick to food amounts.

Surgery: Lycopene might slow blood clotting. It might increase the risk of bleeding during and after surgery. Stop using lycopene supplements at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.

Are there interactions with medications?

Be cautious with this combination.
Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs)
Lycopene might slow blood clotting. Taking lycopene along with medications that also slow blood clotting might increase the risk of bruising and bleeding.

Are there interactions with herbs and supplements?

Taking beta-carotene along with lycopene may alter the amount of lycopene that is absorbed from the gut.
Taking calcium along with lycopene may decrease the amount of lycopene that is absorbed from the gut.
Herbs and supplements that might slow blood clotting
Lycopene might slow blood clotting and increase the risk of bleeding. Taking it with other supplements with similar effects might increase the risk of bleeding in some people. Examples of supplements with this effect include garlic, ginger, ginkgo, nattokinase, and Panax ginseng.
Taking lutein along with lycopene may alter the amount of lycopene that is absorbed from the gut.

Are there interactions with foods?

Fat substitutes such as olestra might reduce the amount of lycopene that is absorbed by the body. Olestra seems to lower lycopene levels in healthy people by about 30%.

How is it typically used?

Lycopene is commonly found in many fruits and vegetables, but particularly in tomato products, including fresh tomatoes, tomato sauce, ketchup, and tomato juice. A 130 gram serving of fresh tomatoes contains 4-10 mg of lycopene. Ketchup contains 3.3 mg per tablespoon.

Lycopene supplements are also available. Lycopene has most often been used by adults in doses of 15-45 mg by mouth daily for up to 6 months. Speak with a healthcare provider to find out what dose might be best for a specific condition.

Other names

All-Trans Lycopene, All-Trans Lycopène, Cis-Lycopène, Licopeno, Lycopène, Lycopenes, Lycopènes, Psi-Psi-Carotene, Psi-Psi-Carotène, (6E,8E,10E,12E,14E,16E,18E,20E,22E,24E,26E)-2,6,10,14,19,23,27,31-octamethyldotriaconta-2,6,8,10,12,14,16,18,20,22,24,26,30-tridecaene.


To learn more about how this article was written, please see the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database methodology.


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Last reviewed - 01/30/2023