Talking Points

Talking Points

Link between citrus fruit and skin cancer

July 19, 2015 at 4:44 pm

Drinking citrus fruit can increase the risk of skin cancer


Do you enjoy a fresh orange juice or grapefruit juice for breakfast? If so it could be increasing your risk of skin cancer, and in particular, melanoma.


A large study has been published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology looking at the link between citrus fruit and skin cancer. Psoralens along with ultraviolet light have been used in the treatment of psoriasis for many years. Studies have shown that, over time, they increase the risk of skin cancer because they sensitise the skin to the effects of UV light. The connection between citrus fruit and skin cancer was investigated because naturally occurring psoralens are contained in citrus fruit.


This study looked at over 100,000 individuals over a period of 24-26 years. A total of 1,840 melanomas were diagnosed during this time and the data were analysed to identify possible risk factors.


Grapefruit showed the strongest association with melanoma. The hazard ratio of eating grapefruit three times per week vs not at all was 1.41. This is a significant finding and another consideration for those giving advice about sun protection.


The most important message is that direct sun exposure increases your risk of skin cancer and it is best to seek the shade.


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I had just been told after attending the Mole Clinic at my local pharmacy that I could potentially have a melanoma on my right leg. Obviously I was very worried and upset by this and when I met Dr. Herd he did his best to try and reassure me. The mole was removed and after a few anxious weeks my results came back fine. I have since seen Dr. Herd on a regular basis over the years for annual skin check ups and I find that his calming and friendly manner gives me peace of mind.