All those bright colored fruits and vegetables lined up at the market! Well, they get their color and all thanks go to Lycopene!
Lycopene is an antioxidant, which protects the cells in the body. Tomatoes, apricots, watermelons, pink colored guavas, and grapefruit contain this in high amounts. Foods that are not red may also contain lycopene, but in smaller amounts. Lycopene does not contain any vitamins. It is responsible for the biosyntheses of many carotenoids, such as beta carotene for photosynthesis, photo protection and pigmentation.
When lycopene is absorbed from intestine, it is transported to blood by lipoproteins and gets accumulated mostly in tissues. Lycopene are consumed to protect the body against hardening of arteries, heart disease, and cancer of breast, prostate, bladder, lung, colon and pancreas. It also protects the body from HPV infection. Some individuals use it to treat asthma and cataracts.
10 Lycopene Side Effects:
Though lycopene plays an important role in our body, it can also cause some side effects. Some of the major side effects of this antioxidant are:
1. Breast Feeding and Pregnancy:
Lycopene is considered safe when consumed in small amounts. But, there is not enough evidence to encourage lycopene consumption during breast feeding and pregnancy. It is better to avoid it completely or take in limited amounts if you are pregnant or breast feeding.
2. Stimulates Prostate Cancer:
Laboratory research suggests that lycopene might worsen existing prostate cancer symptoms. It increases the spread of cancer cells. So, skip lycopene if you are undergoing prostate cancer treatments.
You should avoid taking lycopene, if you are hypersensitive or allergic to tomatoes. Lycopene products are acidic and aggravate ulcers in the stomach. Individuals suffering from acidity or ulcer problems should avoid taking them.
4. Interactions with Drugs:
Lycopene might increase the risk of bleeding when taken along with drugs such as warfarin and aspirin. It may also interact with the drugs taken for high blood pressure and cancer. Lycopene also interacts with the drugs, which are taken to improve the immune system of the body.
5. Weakens Immune System:
Over dosage of lycopene can hamper your immune system. It might also disable your body’s ability to repair itself and fight infections. Illness, such as fever, inflammation and others cannot be repaired properly when you take lycopene in large amounts every day.
6. Interactions with Herbs and Diet Supplements:
Lycopene is also known to interact with supplements or herbs taken for high blood pressure, cancer, and high cholesterol levels. It also interacts with the drugs, which are used to develop body’s immune system. When lycopene is taken along with soy isoflavones, the benefits from both these supplements are neutralized. It can also interact with the herbs taken to treat infertility, but the interaction is not thoroughly researched.
7. Allergic Reaction:
Some individuals might also be allergic to lycopene and they might experience itchiness, swelling and chest constriction on consuming lycopene-rich foods. Others also report allergic reactions, such as rashes and hives.
8. Intestinal Problems:
According to a study, lycopene consumption may lead to intestinal problems. Consuming a dose of 30mg of lycopene everyday, can lead to chronic intestinal discomfort, such as nausea, indigestion, gas, vomiting, diarrhea and bloating.
9. Changes Skin Tone:
A long term consumption of lycopene slightly changes the skin tone. Regular intake of lycopene changes the color of the skin to orange. This change in skin color is called lycopenodermia. This condition does not show any symptoms other than the orange coloring. This side effect can be reduced by avoiding or reducing the intake of lycopene for few weeks.
10. Damages The Cell:
Carotenoid, such as lycopene, is known to likely oxidize within our body under certain specific conditions, such as smoking. When this oxidization takes place, researchers have found that lycopene also reacts in the similar way to free radicals, by causing cellular damage. This suggests that the people who smoke and consume carotenoid supplements are prone to increased risk of heart and cancer diseases.
Consuming lycopene as found in nature can cause some side effects, but that does not negate the good things that comes with it! Discuss about the side effects with a doctor to prevent any serious consequences.
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