Limitation of Dietary Lycopene and ?-Carotene in Prostate and Breast Cancer Chemoprevention Based on Their Mechanisms of Action

Smith Nkhata, G.1* & Emmanuel Ayua2

1Department of Food Science and Technology, Natural Resources College, Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Lilongwe, Malawi
2Department of Food Science and Nutrition, University of Eldoret, Eldoret, Kenya

Dr. Smith Nkhata, G., Department of Food Science and Technology, Natural Resources College, Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Lilongwe, Malawi.

Keywords: Breast Cancer; Chemoprevention; Biomakers; Apoptosis


Lycopene and β-carotene are common dietary carotenoids fruits and vegetables. These carotenoids have health benefits primarily due to their anti-oxidant properties. However, in cancer chemoprevention, these antioxidant carotenoids slow down cancer initiation and progression through various mechanisms independent of antioxidant effect. Most importantly they induce cell cycle arrest and apoptosis consequently, slowing down proliferation of cancerous cells. The carotenoids up-regulate PPAR-γ which is a ligand-activated transcription factor known to regulate numerous cellular activities such as cell survival, growth, differentiation and apoptosis. These cellular activities regulate morphological aspect of cells and are very vital in cancer cells and tumor development. Unfortunately, accumulating data on these effects are derived from studies that used pharmacological doses putting in doubt any beneficial effect on cancer chemoprevention from dietary sources. However very few studies have demonstrated these effects from dietary sources physiological dose).This review focuses on four major mechanisms of lycopene and β-carotene in chemoprevention and highlights some of the challenges and gaps that need to be addressed in using these bioactive compounds from dietary sources for cancer management.

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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