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Skin Cancer Risk Linked to Diet, Not Just Sun Exposure

Posted Aug 26 2008 4:03pm

There are three common types of skin cancers: basal cell, squamous cell and melanoma. Basal cell skin cancers rarely spread and almost never kill; squamous cell cancers can spread and rarely kill; and melanomas often spread and have a significant mortality rate. Basal cell and squamous cell cancers are believed to be caused by excessive sunlight exposure, while melanomas are often linked to sunburns. Researchers have wondered whether other factors than sun exposure increase risk for developing these cancers.



A study from Australia shows that people who eat a diet rich in meat and other fatty foods, and low in vegetables and fruits, are at significantly increased risk for developing squamous cell cancer ( American Journal of Clinical Nutrition , May 2007). This study shows that diet has little or no association with basal cell skin cancers. While nobody really knows how diet may increase risk for squamous cell skin cancers, the most likely explanation is that a diet high in meat and fat may impair your body's immunity so that your antibodies and cells are not able to search out and kill cancer cells. Fruits and vegetables are rich in phytochemicals that help to strengthen your immunity, so these foods may lower cancer risk. More on phytochemicals

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