According to a recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, people consuming large quantities of grapefruit or orange juice have 36% more chances of developing melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer.
Medical evidence confirms that melanoma normally appears in or near an existing mole or dark spot, and even some birthmarks, also known as congenital moles, can develop into melanomas. Although melanoma is generally caused by overexposure to UV rays, some people have a genetic predisposition for it. Unfortunately, if not detected and treated early, this cancer can spread throughout the body and potentially be deadly. Each year melanoma kills around 10,000 Americans.
Can Consuming Grapefruit and Orange Juice Increase Your Risk of Melanoma?
The authors of the study gathered and analyzed data of 63,810 women who were part of a Nurses’ Health Study conducted between 1984 and 2010; and 41,622 men that took part of the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, conducted between 1986 and 2010. Researchers issued a dietary questionnaire once every four years so as to monitor each participant’s citrus fruit intake. The study defined one serving of citrus fruit as equivalent to one orange, half a grapefruit, or one six-ounce glass of orange or grapefruit juice.
The study subjects were also obliged to complete another questionnaire every two years, which included their lifestyle factors such as smoking habits, physical activity, and medical history. The findings revealed:
- 1,840 participants developed melanoma during the 24- to 26-year follow-up.
- It was also discovered that participants who drank more servings of oranges, grapefruits, or their juices were more likely to develop melanoma. In fact, participants who consumed the fruits or their juices at least 1.6 times a day had a 36% higher risk of developing melanoma.
- Also, consuming whole grapefruit was more likely to cause melanoma, but this risk was not linked to any lifestyle factors, including age, smoking habits, alcohol, and coffee intake.
- The highest risk of developing melanoma was found in people who were prone to sunburns when they were children and who consumed lots of whole grapefruit.
In the end, the researchers summed up the results and concluded that psoralens and furocoumarins, both ingredients found in citrus fruits in high amounts, were the possible factors that contributed to development of melanoma. These substances are potential carcinogens found in both mice and humans, which interact with UV rays thus making the skin more sensitive to the sun and more susceptible to sunburns. This makes a solid ground for melanoma cells to proliferate.
However, researchers say that these are only preliminary findings which require further examination. This means that you don’t need to give up a morning glass of orange juice to prevent getting melanoma. There are other risk factors that greatly contribute to the onset of this fatal disease and these include excessive sun exposure that results in blistering sunburns, moles, especially atypical moles, past melanoma history etc.
Melanoma Prevention Tips
- Avoid staying in the sun, particularly between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. as the sun UV rays are the strongest then. If you still have to stay outside during those hours, look for shade.
- Don’t forget to cover up and put on sunscreen. It’s recommended to wear an SPF 30 sunscreen, UV protected sunglasses, and a broad-brimmed hat.
- Keep your baby and young children out of the sun because blistering sunburns at a young age significantly increases one’s risk of developing melanoma later in life.
- Visit a dermatologist once a year as a professional skin exam can help detect melanoma early thus increase the chances of a successful treatment.