Lycopene, a carotenoid found in red fruits such as watermelon and tomatoes, is an effective anti-cancer compound, according to a review of studies conducted by researchers at Kirchberg Hospital in Luxenbourg. Lycopene is even more potent than beta carotene as an antioxidant, which prevents lipid peroxidation and DNA damage. Lycopene also induces enzymes of the cellular antioxidant defense systems as well as increases cell communication, which typically is suppressed in cancer initiation and progression.
There also is good news about cancer. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, the rate of new cancers has dropped by almost 1% a year and the rate of death from cancer has decreased 1.6% a year, primarily because more women are quitting smoking. Among men, rates of lung, colon, rectum, oral, stomach, and brain cancers have dropped, but rates of kidney, pancreas, and liver cancers, as well as melanoma have risen. All cancers in women have dropped, except cancers of the kidney, pancreas, and thyroid, and leukemias and melanomas, which have risen.
Sources: Kellel M, Schumacher M, Dicato M, et al: Antioxidant and anti-proliferative properties of lycopene. Free Radical Research 2011;May 26th.
Kohler B, Ward E, McCarthy B, et al: Annual report to the nation on the status of cancer, 1975-2007. Journal of the National Cancer Institute 2011;103:714-736.