Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the US, with women aged 39 and over at the highest risk. You already know that you should use sunscreen on cloudy days and sunny days, and that you should avoid tanning beds in order to prevent the development of skin cancer like melanoma. You’ve already bought your broad-brimmed hats for beach days. And you stay clear of being outdoors during midday, when UV rays are at their brightest.
But what you might not know is that you can also fight skin cancer through foods. Make sure to incorporate these nine nutrients into your diet to help reduce your risk.
Carotenoids are antioxidants found in cruciferous vegetables, including kale, cauliflower, and broccoli, and in other green leafy vegetables, including collard greens, beet leaves, and spinach, and in citrus fruits. Researchers have found these antioxidants to be skin-cancer protective when eaten in large amounts. Eat them to decrease your risk of developing melanoma.
Some fish can keep your skin healthy thanks to the omega-3 fatty acids found in them. Naturally fatty fish and shellfish in particular can help you increase your melanoma protection while also protecting against non-melanoma skin cancers. The best fish to eat in order to get the anti-inflammatory action of omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, mackerel, trout, and sardines.
3. Herbs and Spices
Herbs like parsley, basil, rosemary, and fresh sage can not only add a blast of flavor to your foods, but can also help fortify your skin thanks to their antioxidant properties.
Turmeric, the spice that adds a yellow color to many foods like curries, also has powerful cancer-fighting properties. Turmeric has been linked to the self-destruction of cancerous cells, the prevention of nitrosamine formation, and the inhibition of aflatoxin production.
Polyphenol antioxidants in both green and black tea can help inhibit proteins that are required for the development of skin cancer. They can also limit the blood vessel growth around tumors to starve cancer development. So, make yourself some tea to ward off cellular skin damage. Just one cup a day can lower your risk of melanoma.
5. Catechins and Resveratrol
Though wine has shown no effect on preventing melanoma, in one Australian study, it did reduce the rate of developing actinic keratosis (precancerous skin growths) by 27 percent. Catechins and resveratrol found in wine may be tumor protective due to their antioxidant properties.
6. Beta Carotene
To protect your skin against UV rays from the sun, eat some carrots. Choose organically grown carrots with the deepest and darkest color in order to get the highest beta-carotene content to fight against skin cancer.
7. Ellagic Acid
Ellagic acid is an anti-carcinogen, an anti-mutagen, and a natural inhibitor of cancer. It can also cause cell death in cancer cells. The best source of this compound comes in red raspberries. Buy fresh or frozen, eat them raw or cooked, because the ellagic acid found in them retains its potency through both freezing and heating.
Avocados aren’t just great for smooth skin—they’re also packed full of nutrients that can reduce your risk of skin cancer. In particular, the avocado, along with the asparagus, is one of the best sources of glutathione, a powerful cancer-fighting antioxidant.
Beta-glucans can be found in shiitake mushrooms, which are a staple in traditional Chinese cuisine. Beta-glucans have anti-cancer and anti-tumor properties that can combat skin cancer, and many other types of cancers. They can pass immune cells into cancerous areas of the body as well as destroy cancer cells. Bonus: Shiitake are also bursting with selenium, which is an anti-cancer mineral.