Home Dermatology Citrus Consumption Linked to Increased Risk of Melanoma

Citrus Consumption Linked to Increased Risk of Melanoma

Researchers suspect compounds in citrus may sensitize skin to sunlight, but further study needed

TUESDAY, June 30, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Individuals who regularly consume orange juice or grapefruit may have a higher risk of developing melanoma, according to research published online June 29 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Abrar Qureshi, M.D., M.P.H., chair of dermatology at Brown University and a dermatologist at Rhode Island Hospital — both in Providence, and colleagues analyzed data from two long-running studies of U.S. health professionals involving 105,432 U.S. adults followed for 24 to 26 years. Every two to four years, the participants answered detailed surveys on their health and lifestyle.

The researchers found that 1,840 people developed melanoma. People who had orange juice at least once a day were about 25 percent more likely to develop melanoma than those who drank the juice less than weekly. Similarly, people who ate a serving of grapefruit at least three times a week had a 41 percent higher melanoma risk, versus those who never ate it. However, there was no connection between melanoma risk and either whole oranges or grapefruit juice, the researchers found.

Citrus foods contain particular photoactive chemicals — namely, psoralens and furocoumarins — that are known to make the skin more sensitive to the sun when they’re applied topically, Qureshi told HealthDay. But even if citrus foods potentially make some people susceptible to sunburn, it’s not orange juice that should be avoided. “The citrus can’t hurt you without the excessive sun exposure,” Qureshi said.

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