British Journal of Nutrition

Full Papers

Dietary Surveys and Nutritional Epidemiology

Relationship of lycopene intake and consumption of tomato products to incident CVD

Paul F. Jacquesa1 c1, Asya Lyassa2a3, Joseph M. Massaroa4, Ramachandran S. Vasana2a5 and Ralph B. D'Agostino Sra2a3

a1 Jean Mayer US Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, Tufts University, 711 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02111, USA

a2 NHLBI Framingham Heart Study, 73 Mount Wayte Avenue, Framingham, MA 01702, USA

a3 Department of Mathematics and Statistics, College of Arts and Sciences, Boston University, 111 Cummington Street, Boston, MA 02215, USA

a4 Department of Biostatistics, School of Public Health, Boston University, 715 Albany Street, Boston, MA 02118, USA

a5 Department of Medicine, School of Medicine, Boston University, 761 Harrison Avenue, Boston, MA 02118, USA


Evidence for cardioprotective effects of lycopene is inconsistent. Studies of circulating lycopene generally report inverse associations with CVD risk, but studies based on lycopene intake do not. The failure of dietary studies to support the findings based on biomarkers may be due in part to misclassification of lycopene intakes. To address this potential misclassification, we used repeated measures of intake obtained over 10 years to characterise the relationship between lycopene intake and the incidence of CVD (n 314), CHD (n 171) and stroke (n 99) in the Framingham Offspring Study. Hazard ratios (HR) for incident outcomes were derived from Cox proportional hazards regression models using logarithmically transformed lycopene intake adjusted for CVD risk factors and correlates of lycopene intake. HR were interpreted as the increased risk for a 2·7-fold difference in lycopene intake, a difference approximately equal to its interquartile range. Using an average of three intake measures with a 9-year follow-up, lycopene intake was inversely associated with CVD incidence (HR 0·83, 95 % CI 0·70, 0·98). Using an average of two intake measures and 11 years of follow-up, lycopene intake was inversely associated with CHD incidence (HR 0·74, 95 % CI 0·58, 0·94). Lycopene intake was unrelated to stroke incidence. The present study of lycopene intake and CVD provides supporting evidence for an inverse association between lycopene and CVD risk; however, additional research is needed to determine whether lycopene or other components of tomatoes, the major dietary source of lycopene, are responsible for the observed association.

(Received February 17 2012)

(Revised October 16 2012)

(Accepted October 22 2012)

(Online publication January 15 2013)

Key Words:

  • Lycopene;
  • CVD;
  • CHD;
  • Stroke


c1 Corresponding author: P. F. Jacques, fax +1 617 556 3344, email


  Abbreviations: HR, hazard ratio