Malignant melanoma is the worst kind of the 3 types of skin cancer. It develops in skin cells called melanocytes and is the rarest of the 3 common skin cancers (basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and malignant melanoma).
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer because everyone is very susceptible to it. Skin is our largest organ, making up 6-10% of your body weight and covering over 21 square feet. Sun burns, exposure to toxins, old age, weak immune system, or naturally light skin are just some of the reasons one might develop skin cancer in their lifetime.
In fact, it is estimated that 3.5 million cases of basal and squamous cell skin cancer will be diagnosed in America this year alone. The more dangerous melanoma is estimated to account for 73, 000 (2%) of the cases.
So which fruits and their juices are being linked to melanoma? Grapefruit and orange juice. These citrus fruits contain compounds that could lead to cancer. Specifically orange juice and whole grapefruit – not grapefruit juice or whole oranges.
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Researchers still aren’t sure why. They’re aware that the photoactive compounds in these two specific citrus breeds are what causes your skin to be more sensitive to the sun when applied topically. Dr. Abrar Qureshi, chair of dermatology at Brown University and a dermatologist at Rhode Island Hospital, says:
“You’ll see children get a sunburn in spots where a citrus popsicle dripped down the chin, for example.” But he goes on to explain that “The citrus can’t hurt you without the excessive sun exposure.”
Good To Be Shady
The experts were quick to stress that the findings, released in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, do not prove that citrus food help cause skin cancer. They suggest, however, that is is plausible that photoactive chemicals – psoralens and furocoumarins – can increase your chances due to their skin-weakening attributes.
The results come from a study of more than 100,000 US adults who were followed for 25 years. The researchers found that those who regularly consume orange juice or whole grapefruit has a higher risk of developing melanoma.
Over the 25 years, more than 1,800 of the subjects who regularly drank OJ or ate grapefruit developed this most deadly skin cancer. Even after other factors including sun exposure, previous bad sunburns, and family history were taken into account, the researchers could still make links between the cancer and the citrus compounds.
People who drank orange juice daily were about 25 percent more likely to develop melanoma that those who drank it less than weekly. People who ate whole grapefruit at least 3 times a week had a 41 percent higher risk of developing melanoma versus those who never ate it.
What the researchers and their study stress is that you should by no means stop eating healthy foods or drinking healthy juices. The biggest correlation to skin cancer is still sun exposure, researchers stressed. When you go out in the sun, make sure to cover up.
- Always apply sunscreen – pay special attention to shoulders, ears, feet, face; anywhere that faces the sun directly
- Always wear a hat
- Wear sunglasses
- Wear long sleeves (when possible)
- Stay in the shade
- Cover your shoulders
Stay Safe and Healthy
One thing you can take from this study is if you’re planning on spending a lot of time in the sun this summer cut back your citrus intake. Wait for the fall, and have a big dose of the delicious fruits you’ve been avoiding all summer, and continue avoiding skin cancer by covering up.
Now get out there and enjoy the beach, do some gardening, or walk in the park while respecting the sun and all it gives us. Including these fruits.
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