Skin cancer: can eating fruit and veg reduce risk?
While the summer sun boosts our vitamin D, protecting our skin from its rays is just as important. But if you are keen to work on your tan this summer, the folks from Brown University in America have found that those of us eating foods high in vitamin A have some 17% less risk for getting the second-most-common type of skin cancer, as compared to those who ate modest amounts of foods and supplements rich in vitamin A.
I always love new reasons to eat lots of fruit and veg, but this is a serious one. Vitamin A is known to be essential for the healthy growth and maturation of skin cells, so this study is important in highlighting its effect in helping reduce skin cancer in addition to wearing sunscreen and managing sun exposure.
The research examined the diet and skin cancer results of participants in two large, long-term observational studies: the Nurses’ Health Study, which followed 121,700 U.S. women from 1984 to 2012, and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, which followed 51,529 U.S. men from 1986 to 2012. As well as taking other factors into account, after grouping participants into five categories by vitamin A intake levels, the researchers found that people with the highest average daily total vitamin A intake were 17% percent less likely to get skin cancer than those in the category with the lowest total vitamin A intake.
Plant-based sources of vitamin A were recommended, including sweet potatoes, carrots, leafy green vegetables and fruits like apricots and cantaloupe. The researchers also found that eating high levels of other plant-based pigments similar to vitamin A, for example lycopene, commonly found in tomatoes and watermelon, was also associated with decreased risk of skin cancer.
While the study was observational, the evidence is extremely compelling.
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