Lycopene: Adverse Reactions. Interactions. Pregnancy Use. Practice Points


Animal studies have shown that 600 mg lycopene/kg/day is not toxic.

Adverse Reactions

Animal studies have demonstrated that 600 mg lycopene/kg/day does not produce adverse effects, and is well tolerated. This level is far in excess of usual dietary intake in humans.

Significant Interactions


Drugs that reduce fat absorption, such as cholestyramine, colestipol and orlistat, may also reduce the absorption of lycopene — separate doses by at least 2 hours.

Contraindications and Precautions

Hypersensitivity to lycopene or its food sources.

Pregnancy Use

Eating dietary amounts of foods rich in lycopene is likely to be safe.

Practice Points / Patient Counselling

• Lycopene is a fat-soluble, non-provitamin A carotenoid that imparts the red colour to tomatoes and is most bioavailable from processed food sources such as tomato paste.

• Lycopene has antioxidant and cholesterol-lowering activity and may reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, according to epidemiological evidence.

• Epidemiological evidence generally suggests that higher intakes of tomato-based products reduce the risk of prostate cancer and possibly stomach cancer and cataracts.

• Preliminary evidence suggests that intervention with tomato-enriched products or lycopene may decrease tumour size in localised prostate cancer and reduce prostate specific antigen levels.

• Increased intake of lycopene has also been associated with reduced risk of cortical cataract and sunburn. Preliminary evidence also suggests topical application of lycopene protects against UV-induced erythema (sunburn).

Answers to Patients’ Frequently Asked Questions

What will this supplement do for me?

Lycopene is an antioxidant vitamin that may reduce the risk of developing prostate and stomach cancer, cardiovascular disease and cataracts. It also protects the skin from sunburn and may reduce cholesterol levels when ingested in high doses.

When will it start to work?

Risk reduction is likely to be a result of many years of consistently high intakes.

Protective effects against sunburn have been reported after 10 weeks.

Are there any safety issues?

Safety studies conducted in animals suggest that lycopene is very safe and well tolerated.