Please pass the Lycopene

By: Alere Staff
Publication Date: Tue, 01/01/2013


A study has found that men may reduce their risk of stroke by eating more foods containing a natural chemical called lycopene. Lycopene is found in common foods such as tomatoes, watermelon, and grapefruit. The science behind the benefit is lycopene’s strong antioxidant protection against cell damage resulting from hydrogen peroxide and nitrogen dioxide radicals.1

The 12 year study included only men and excluded other stroke risk factors such as age, smoking, body mass index, high blood pressure, diabetes, high levels of LDL cholesterol, and a history of previous stroke. Study authors noted several study limitations of their study including a low number of overall strokes in the population of study patients aged 42-61 years old. The evaluation of other food intake was also not studied and may have contributed to stroke event rates.

Tomatoes contain higher level of vitamin K than many other foods. People taking warfarin are instructed to keep their vitamin K in-take the same from week to week. Eating large amounts of tomato products too many days in a row may reduce how warfarin works. A low INR test result may be a sign you have eaten too much vitamin K since your last INR test.

Lycopene has other benefits including reducing inflammation, blocking cholesterol synthesis, boosting immune function, and reducing platelet aggregation and thrombosis.1 Discuss with your doctor’s office before making any significant changes in your diet because of any study or promises for better health.

Increasing testing frequency is recommended when starting or stopping any new medication or dietary supplement including vitamins. Home INR monitoring will help improve your control of warfarin. More frequent testing, typically performed by patient self testing, is a valuable tool for detecting rises and falls in INR values and enable you to work with your clinician to make any adjustments to diet or medication dosing.2 Go to the Getting Started page for more information about testing your INR at home.

  1. Karppi, J. Serum lycopene decreases the risk of stroke in men: A population-based follow-up study. Neurology. 2012. 79:1540-1547.
  2. Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Decision Memo for Prothrombin Time (INR) Monitor for Home Anticoagulation Management (CAG-00087R) [Memorandum]. 2008. Baltimore, MD.