Are Oranges Linked to Melanoma Skin Cancer?

oranges skin cancer molesSkin cancer is known to be primarily due to UV radiation from the sun or sun beds. However, a study has also found a surprising link to consumption of citrus fruits or oranges.

The study’s findings suggested that:

  • 2 servings of citrus fruits a day is associated with a 63% higher risk of melanoma compared to those who don’t eat citrus fruits
  • 1 serving of oranges per day has a 79% increased risk for melanoma compared to those with no consumption
  • 1 serving of orange juice increased the risk by 54%

Those with fair or very fair skin were found to be most at risk.

It is true that UV radiation can be beneficial to the body as long as exposure is kept in moderation. UV radiation has been used to successfully treat a number of diseases, including rickets, psoriasis, eczema and jaundice, but the potential benefits must always be balanced against the risks associated with sun exposure.

Dr Andrew R. Marley, the lead author of the research, said:

“Psoralen has known photosensitising and photocarcinogenic properties and is found in abundance in citrus products. This fact has spurred studies to investigate whether high citrus consumption is associated with melanoma risk due to psoralen photocarcinogenicity. This research suggests a significant increase in melanoma risk associated with a higher citrus intake and these findings could well shape sun-exposure guidance and how we approach advising patients that are already at high risk of developing melanoma.”

Harriet Dalwood of the British Association of Dermatologists, agreed:

“As melanoma rates continue to rise, improved prevention strategies are needed. Research into contributing factors, such as citrus consumption, are useful in reducing skin cancer rates, particularly amongst those most at risk.

“Citrus fruits, especially oranges and orange juice, are consumed widely in the UK, with fruit juice consumption reported to be increasing year-on-year. This research could help medical professionals better advise patients who already have established risk factors such as a family history of melanoma to lower their citrus intake.”

Researchers from Indiana University investigated data from the UK Biobank – a large sample of 198,964 people, made up of 1,592 people with a melanoma diagnosis and 197,372 controls. Additional data was collected via a series of 5 questionnaires to assess citrus intake over the previous 24 hours.

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Should I be worried?

It is important to recognise that this correlation does not mean that eating oranges can cause skin cancer. The primary cause remains exposure to the sun or sunbeds. Too much UV radiation can damage the DNA in our skin cells, causing them to start growing out of control, which can lead to skin cancer.

The most effective prevention against skin cancer is to avoid UV exposure.

However, if you eat a lot of oranges or citrus fruit, it is also valuable to recognise that this increases your risks. It would be best to swap some of your citrus intake for other fruits – especially if you have fair skin.

Also be alert for any worrying signs, as earlier detection of any issues always gives the best treatment results.

5 signs of skin cancer

The first sign of a melanoma is often a new mole or a change in an existing mole. Regular self-checking and vigilance is key. The ABCDE mole checking rules summarise what to look for:

  1. Asymmetry – an odd or uneven shape
  2. Border – this may be unusually rough or jagged
  3. Colour – tends to be particularly dark or blotchy mix of colours
  4. Diameter – most melanomas are larger than 6mm (1/4 inch) in diameter
  5. Evolving – a mole that has changed in appearance or behaviour (e.g. started to itch or ooze)

Dr Ross Perry advises to look for the ugly duckling sign – a mole/moles which are different and ‘odd’. A hunch that it’s not right is best checked out by a GP or mole expert.

Skin Surgery Laser Clinics

Cosmedics’ Skin Surgery Laser Clinic offer private mole removal at a selection of clinics based in London and Bristol. Moles are removed using the latest surgical techniques including laser mole removal; with trained doctors and surgeons.

Our team of qualified and experienced doctors and surgeons also treat other skin blemishes, including sebaceous cystsskin tagswarts and lipoma using  freezing, laser or surgical techniques.

For ultimate peace of mind, Cosmedics Skin Surgery Laser Clinic offer a thorough top to toe mole check carried out by their trained and experienced doctors.

Cosmedics Skin Clinics was founded in 2003 by Dr Ross Perry, a qualified and experienced London GP who has an excellent reputation in skin treatments and has removed thousands of lesions/blemishes in his career.

For more information or to book a consultation, please complete the form on this web page or call 020 7386 0464.