Biological activity of lycopene metabolites: implications for cancer prevention

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While early studies focused on the potential roles in health and disease of provitamin A carotenoids, such as β-carotene, research over the past decade has provided a framework for our understanding of the functions of non-provitamin A carotenoids such as lycopene, especially in regards to its association with a reduced risk of a number of chronic diseases, including cancer. Recent data suggests that lycopene metabolites may possess specific biological activities on several important cellular signaling pathways and molecular targets. Carotenoid metabolites may have more important biological roles than their parent compounds in human health and disease. This notion has been reinforced by the observation of both beneficial and detrimental effects of carotenoid metabolites in cancer prevention.

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