While the connection between citrus fruits and skin cancer is unclear, there are several steps that you can take to reduce your risk of skin cancer:
1) Wear sunscreen! Sunscreen will minimize your exposure to the harmful rays that are linked with skin cancer. If you’re like me and you prefer more natural products, you can try sunscreens that protect by serving as a physical block on top of the skin rather than those that are absorbed into the skin. Topical sunscreens are made with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide as the active ingredients rather than benzones which are found in many traditional sunscreens and have been linked with hormone disruption. In addition to wearing sunscreen, try on a wide-brimmed hat, wear lip balm and some sunglasses!
2) Get regular skin exams! Skin exams with a dermatologist are generally recommended once per year unless you are at increased risk of skin cancer and require exams more frequently.
3) Consider the following supplements, which have all been researched for their skin cancer risk reducing properties. Some of these supplements such as Avemar have also been shown to have beneficial effects in individuals already diagnosed with melanoma. Be sure to discuss any supplement choices with your dietitian and medical team before getting started. It is important to understand potential supplement interactions and contraindications.
a. Heliocare- an antioxidant formula made from a plant designed to help protect your skin against sun damage
b. Avemar- a fermented wheat germ extract, researched to promote better outcomes for people with melanoma
c. Nicatinamide- a B vitamin that may reduce risk of skin cancer
4) Eat foods rich in lycopene, which helps to increase your natural SPF! Watermelon, tomatoes, guavas, papaya and red peppers are all great choices. See the lycopene rich recipe below:
Tomato salad with parsley mint pesto
· 1 pint of red grape tomatoes, washed (organic if possible)
· 2 yellow peppers, washed (organic if possible)
· 2 cups of carrots (organic if possible)
· 1 bunch of parsley or about 1 cup, washed
· 1 bunch of mint or about 1 cup, washed
· 3 cloves of garlic
· ½ cup olive oil
· 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
· Pinch of salt and black pepper
1. Slice 1 pint of red grape tomatoes in half.
2. Dice yellow peppers and chop carrots.
3. Toss in a large bowl.
4. Combine ingredients for pesto into a food processor or high speed blender. Serve over tomato salad for a colorful and delicious cancer fighting meal.
**Add cannellini beans into the salad for protein to make it a complete meal!