Natural Food Products, Rich in Lycopene and Beta-Carotene, or Dietary Supplements for Cancer Prevention
Pp. 29-63 (35)
Victoria Atanasova and Penka Gatseva
Numerous epidemiological studies indicate that the risk of cancer processes
can be reduced by a positive change in the dietary behavior and healthy lifestyle, and
this gives us greater optimism about the possibility to minimize cancer morbidity and
mortality. Cancer prevention in 32-35% of cases can be achieved by dietary
modification and consumption of functional foods, rich in bioactive components.
There is an undoubted positive effect of a number of functional foods, rich in bioactive
substances, such as lycopene, β-carotene and other phytochemicals, on cancer
prevention. Some scientific reports on the effect of lycopene and β-carotene in natural
food products and those of synthetic origin in cancer prevention are inconsistent.
Researchers have been considering the issue of whether purified phytochemicals are
with the same health benefits as phytochemicals, contained in whole foods. Currently, it
is considered that dietary supplements do not have the same health benefits as a diet,
abundant in fruits and vegetables, because taken alone, clinically tested individual
antioxidants do not appear to have uniform preventive effects.
This review is based on the growing interest in the role of carotenoids, specifically
lycopene and beta-carotene, in cancer prevention and treatment, combined with the
assumption that micronutrients of synthetic origin cannot replace the benefits of a diet,
rich in natural plant products.
It has been demonstrated that a synthetic form of β-carotene has partial pro-oxidant
effect, while the natural one has an antioxidant effect. For this reason, the goal of many
breeding programs in the field of vegetable crops is to create varieties with high
biological value, characterized by high content of lycopene, β-carotene, ascorbic acid
and other natural compounds with antioxidant activity. They are suitable initial material
for the production of natural products with a high content of the bioactive compounds,
beneficial in the prevention of chronic diseases. Increased antioxidant intake may be
achieved by the consumption of more antioxidant-rich foods, rather than by the use of
supplements. In conclusion, we support the evidence suggesting that antioxidant
micronutrients are best acquired through natural plant food consumption, rather than
Beta-carotene, bioactive substances, cancer prevention, dietary
supplements, functional foods, lycopene, natural food products, phytochemicals,
Department of Hygiene and Ecological Medicine, Faculty of Public Health, Medical University-Plovdiv, Plovdiv, Bulgaria.