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Brain Tumor and Lycopene Supplementation

A glioma is a type of tumor that starts in the brain or spine. It is called a glioma because it arises from glial cells. The most common site of gliomas is the brain. Symptoms of gliomas depend on which part of the central nervous system is affected. A brain glioma can cause headaches, nausea and vomiting, seizures, and cranial nerve disorders as a result of increased intracranial pressure. A glioma of the optic nerve can cause visual loss. Spinal cord gliomas can cause pain, weakness, or numbness in the extremities. The prognosis for patients with high-grade gliomas is generally poor, and is especially so for older patients.

Lycopene is a non-essential nutrient that is in the same family as beta-carotene and lutein. It is the substance that gives tomatoes and several other fruits their deep red color. Attention has been focused on lycopene for its potential use in preventing cardiovascular diseases and cancer, and for its potential immune boosting properties, though the immune effects have been questioned. High levels of lycopene are found in tomatoes, guava, watermelon, pink grapefruit and rosehips.

Beneficial affects of lycopene for prostate cancer has been well established in clinical trials but not for brain cancer. This study presented in the journal Neurology India involved a sample size of 50 patients with brain tumors that were chosen for this randomized placebo control study. All patients underwent surgery followed by adjuvant radiotherapy. Along with this treatment, patients were then given either lycopene or placebo. Patients receiving oral lycopene exhibited significant elevations in lycopene levels and demonstrated a higher response rate to the overall cancer therapy and a longer time to progression. The authors of the study concluded that “Addition of nutritional supplements such as lycopene may have potential therapeutic benefit in the adjuvant management of high-grade gliomas.”1

 

Reference

Puri T, Goval S, Julka PK, et al. Lycopene in treatment of high-grade gliomas: a pilot study. Neurol India. 2010;58(1):20-3.

 

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This article was published on Friday August 06, 2010.
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