Lycopene might improve BPH, joint study suggests


Source : Taipei Times (

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

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Medical research suggests that eating foods that contain lycopene — commonly found in red fruits and vegetables — can improve benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a National Taiwan University Hospital (NTUH) physician said yesterday.

The Taiwanese Association of Andrology held two talks on men’s health issues at NTUH yesterday, one about BPH — a non-cancerous condition in men in which the prostate is enlarged and often causes problems when urinating.

About half of men aged above 50 years in the nation have problems with BPH, and the likelihood of developing the condition increases with age, the association said.

An early symptom of BPH is a weakened or slower urine stream, NTUH urologist Tai Huai-ching (戴槐青) said, adding that while the normal discharge rate is about 15cc to 20cc of urine per second, mild cases of BPH can cause the rate to drop to about 10cc to 15cc per second and serious cases to lower than 10cc per second.

He said symptoms also include frequent or urgent need to urinate or inability to completely empty the bladder, which might lead to urinary tract infection or even increased risk of chronic kidney disease in serious cases.

A five-year international clinical study conducted by researchers from NTUH and the US on thousands of BPH patients above the age of 50 found that those who consumed a certain amount of lycopene showed significant improvements when urinating, association chairperson and NTUH urologist Chang Hong-chiang (張宏江) said.

The causes of BPH are mainly associated with genetic inheritance, but men who eat foods high in animal fats also have higher risk of developing the condition, he said.

Lycopene can be found in ripe tomatoes, pumpkins, carrots, papayas, grapefruits and many red fruits and vegetables, John Tung Foundation Food and Nutrition Center director Hsu Hui-yu (許惠玉) said.

However, as lycopene is a lipid-soluble compound, people might mistakenly think that the fruits and vegetables must be cooked for the body to absorb it, but it can also be absorbed when eaten raw with salad dressings, meats or nuts, as they all contain oils, she said.