Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant found in red colored vegetables and fruits. It is found in enormous amounts in tomatoes, water melons, grape fruits, etc. Lycopene can prevent heart diseases, cancer, cataract, etc. However, when consumed in large quantities, it can cause unfavorable effects too. Mentioned below are a few side effects of lycopene one should be aware of.
Side Effects of Lycopene
Lycopene is acidic in nature and can cause allergic reactions when consumed in large quantities. It might result in mild to severe allergic reactions like anaphylactic shock. One might experience rashes, itching, swelling in the mouth and throat, difficulty in breathing, etc due to lycopene hypersensitivity and might even require immediate medical attention.
Lycopendodermia is a condition characterized by discoloration of the skin. The skin would become red in color due to excessive intake of lycopene. This condition would not last long and would disappear in a few days, if the patient is placed on less lycopene diet. However, it results in anxiety.
Overeating foods that contain lycopene might cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and gastric discomfort. It might also result in ulcer due to its acidic nature. These symptoms will fade out when lycopene rich foods are discontinued.
Studies have proved that lycopene is a good remedy for hypertension. However, when lycopene is consumed along with anti-hypertensive drugs, it can cause serious health issues by bringing down systolic pressure to a very low level. Hence, one should be careful to avoid lycopene when on medication for hypertension.
Affects The Immune System
Excessive lycopene is found to interfere with the body’s defense mechanism and hamper its ability to fight off infections. Common illnesses such as fever and flu cannot be cured by the body’s defense mechanism when excessive lycopene is taken on a regular basis. Inflammation might also increase with excess lycopene intake.
Lycopene is said to interfere with a few chemotherapy agents. It is also found to interact with the medication ciprofloxacin, which is used to treat bacterial infections. It reduces the effectiveness of these drugs. It is also reported to interfere with the fat substitute, olestra.
Lycopene gets oxidized under certain conditions like smoking and is found to act in a way similar to that of free radicals. It might cause oxidative stress and damage the cells. Therefore, overconsumption of lycopene can result in heart problems and cancer in people, who smoke.