The carotenoids, lycopene and beta carotene, halt cancer cell growth, state researchers at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. Human cancerous breast cells were treated with carotenoids for 48 and 96 hours, while cell activity and viability were monitored. Results showed a significant decrease in the number of viable cancer cells when treated with these carotenoids. Lycopene and beta carotene exposure also caused increased cancer cell death, called apoptosis. The researchers conclude that these carotenoids, “…inhibit cell proliferation, arrest the cell cycle in different phases, and increase apoptosis…[thus]are potential agents for biological interference with cancer.”
IN PERSPECTIVE: The best dietary sources of lycopene are watermelon and tomatoes, while beta carotene is found in most orange or dark green fruits and vegetables.
Gloria N, Soares N, Brand C, et al: Lycopene and beta-carotene induce cell-cycle arrest and apoptosis in human breast cancer cell lines. Anticancer Research 2014;34:1377-1386.