Using Natural Botanicals to Work Against Cancers?
Lycopene, an acyclic hydrocarbon carotenoid found in tomatoes and their products, is a well-established potent antioxidant, and its anticancer properties have been shown in cultured cells and animal models. Many investigators have studied the protective effects of topical lycopene against acute ultraviolet B (UVB)-induced photodamage. Application of lycopene dose dependently inhibited UVB-induced ornithine decarboxylase (P < 0.05) and myeloperoxidase (P < 0.05) and significantly reduced bifold skin thickness (P < 0.05). Immunohistochemical staining revealed increased active caspase-3 a pathway responsible in the normal process of cell death in the UVB-exposed group compared with the unexposed control. Application of topical lycopene prevented the cleavage of caspase-3. UVB irradiation completely diminished proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA), and the untreated skin maintained positively stained cells throughout the basal epidermis. Topical application of lycopene significantly reversed UVB-induced PCNA inhibition, and normal PCNA staining was restored in the lycopene-treated skin. These results suggest that topical lycopene is able to exert its protective effects against acute UVB-induced photodamage. Furthermore, it may act as a preventative agent via inhibition of epidermal ornithine decarboxylase activity, reducing inflammatory responses, maintaining normal cell proliferation, and possibly preventing DNA damage as indicated by blocking the necessitating step of cell death following UVB ( rays responsible for sunburn) injury.
Based on these and other studies the importance of topically applied lycopene in the possible prevention of skin cancer, skin aging and wrinkles cannot be over-estimated. It is important to search out skin care products that have high concentrations of pure lycopene and not just tomato extracts or powders. Another frequently asked question is why not just take a dietary supplement containing lycopene and be done with it. This seems like the logical solution to the problem, however, research has confirmed that lycopene is not excreted in high enough concentrations in the skin nor is it uniformly distributed. Dietary lycopene is excreted mostly in the armpits, wrists, and along the hairline and minimally over the facial skin where it is most needed. For this reason topically applied lycopene is the only why to receive adequate concentrations of lycopene to your face where it is most needed.