According to Cancer Research UK, the rate of skin cancer incidence in the UK is projected to go up by 7% between 2014 and 2035.
In 2015, there were 15,906 recorded cases of melanoma skin cancer, representing around 4% of total cancer cases in the UK.
UV Rays and Skin Cancer
UV damage remains as the main cause of skin cancer. Exposure to UV rays trigger the formation of free radicals in the body. These free radicals cause cellular damage including DNA damage which may lead to the formation of cancer.
Using a sunscreen to protect your skin against UV damage has been one of the most effective preventative actions against skin cancer. Numerous studies also showed that eating certain type of foods can reduce the cancer risk including skin cancer.
Foods That Help Reduce The Cancer Risk
Foods that are rich in antioxidants are shown to be beneficial in preventing the development of cancer. Antioxidant has the ability to neutralise free radicals, molecules that cause damages to body cells including DNA damage.
Sweet potatoes are rich in beta carotene. Also known as pro-vitamin A, beta carotene is an antioxidant that together with other phytochemicals in sweet potatoes help neutralise free radicals.
Known as the sources of vitamin C, a water-soluble antioxidant that helps prevent free radicals to damage body cells and DNA.
Fatty fish like Salmon, Tuna and Mackerel are rich in vitamin D and Omega 3 Fatty Acids.
Studies showed that both vitamin D and Omega 3 fatty acids help prevent skin cancer.
Sunflower seeds are rich in vitamin E, one of the popular antioxidants. Eating sunflower seeds regularly helps reduce free radical damage in your body and strengthens skin barrier.
Several studies suggested that eating tomatoes may help lower the risk for skin cancer. This is likely due to Lycopene, the antioxidant found in tomatoes.
Polyphenols are phytochemicals found in some foods such as cocoa powder, clove, star anise, dark chocolate, green tea, fruits and vegetables.
Some studies revealed that polyphenols have anticarcinogenic properties that help reduce the cancer risk.
A recent study at The University of Texas at Arlington suggested that zinc can inhibit the growth of cancer cells. Therefore eating shellfish, the best source of zinc, may help prevent skin cancer.
If you are a vegan, you can get zinc from various legumes, seeds and nuts.
Does Taking Antioxidant Supplements Help Reduce Cancer Risk?
Several studies suggested that taking antioxidant supplements doesn't really help lower the risk of developing cancer. Isolated antioxidants found in various supplements don't seem to be as effective as the antioxidants in the whole foods in lowering the cancer risk.
Why Eating Whole Foods is Better than Taking Supplements?
Whole foods such as fruits, nuts, seeds and vegetables contain many other phytochemicals, in addition to the antioxidant contents. These phytochemicals and antioxidants seem to be working synergistically in neutralising free radicals.
How To Protect Your Skin from UV Damage
1. Wear a sunscreen whenever you plan to be outdoor during the day. Reapply your sunscreen regularly, at least every two hours or more frequently if you are sweating or going for a swim.
2. Limit your skin exposure to UV rays. Even if you wear a sunscreen, do not stay too long under the sun especially during peak times.
3. Eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables everyday. They contain antioxidants that help protect your skin.
A study showed that Rose extract contains several antioxidants that are beneficial for your skin health. On the other hand, colloidal gold has an excellent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that help prevent free radical damage.
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Sources: Cancer Research UK, www.cancerresearchuk.org; Diet and Dermatology, The Role of Dietary Intervention in Skin Disease, The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, 2014 July, 7(7): 46–51; The alpha-tocopherol, beta-carotene lung cancer prevention study: Design, methods, participant characteristics, and compliance, Annals of Epidemiology, Volume 4, Issue 1, January 1994, Pages 1-10; Polyphenols: skin photoprotection and inhibition of photocarcinogenesis, Mini-Reviews in Medicinal Chemistry, 011 Dec, 11(14): 1200-15; Zinc can halt the growth of cancer cells, study says, Science Daily, September 28, 2017.