Foods and skin cancer: on citrus fruits

We are all aware of the health benefits of consuming vitamin-packed citrus fruit juices such as orange and grapefruit juice. However, recent studies have revealed that too much citrus fruit could actually be detrimental to our health, especially in regards to foods and skin cancer.

A recent study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology declares that those who have more than one glass of citrus fruit juice a day have a greater risk of developing melanoma.

This study has yet to be repeated on other groups, so people are being advised to consider that there is still plenty more research to be done into the topic. However, it is interesting to see that substances that we have always considered as being full of health benefits could actually play a part in the development of skin cancer and melanoma.

Citrus fruits

The reason behind this increased risk is a substance that is present in citrus fruits. Psolarens occur naturally in citrus fruit and have been successfully used in the treatment of psoriasis, eczema, and vitiligo. However, they also effectively absorb UV radiation which can lead to increased DNA damage from this radiation. This property of psolarens is what has been associated with the increased risk of melanoma, as well as basal and squamous cell carcinomas of the skin.

Don’t let these findings put you off citrus juice entirely though. The studies very clearly show that it is only large quantities of citrus fruit that cause a significant increase in psolarens. The psolarens are also only harmful when combined with significant exposure to UV light. This means that anyone who is outdoors a lot or lives near to the equator should be extra vigilant about the number of psolarens in their diet.

Psolarens are also present in figs, celery, carrots, and parsley. As well as herbs and spices such as cumin, coriander, caraway, dill, fennel, and mustard.

One glass of orange or grapefruit juice a day contains a safe quantity of psolarens which will not increase your risk of melanoma.

Orange juice & vitamin C

Orange juice is known for its health benefits including boosting the immune system, promoting cellular repair, reducing the signs of aging, reducing inflammation and lowering cholesterol levels. Grapefruit juice can help boost the metabolism, strengthen immunity and even fight gum disease. Because vitamin C is such a powerful antioxidant it has been linked to fighting the free radicals that cause cancer. You can still reap the benefits of citrus juices by drinking one glass a day. Vitamin C is present in peppers, leafy greens, broccoli, berries, tomatoes, papayas, and peas. A rich and varied diet is the best way to stay healthy.

The main cause of melanoma has always been recognized as being exposed to UV radiation. Avoiding UV exposure is a vital part of staying safe from skin cancer and melanoma. It is also vital that people familiarise themselves with melanoma symptoms and perform regular skin checks. Early melanoma detection and prompt skin cancer detection are so important when it comes to the successful treatment of skin cancer. When it comes to your diet, it may be best to adopt an ‘everything in moderation’ mentality, but when it comes to sun exposure and sun safety you can never be too careful.

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