Regular intake of fruit, vegetables, nuts and fish may protect against malignant melanoma.
Although exposure to the sun's rays is still the biggest cause of this type of skin cancer, the latest study suggests poor diet could also be a factor. Recent studies have shown Mediterranean foods can protect against other forms of cancer, as well as heart disease, asthma and diabetes. But this is believed to be the first time scientists have found a benefit in terms of melanoma, an often lethal cancer that strikes more than 9,000 people a year in the UK and kills around 1,700 annually.
The findings, by a team of researchers at a skin disease hospital in Rome called the Dermopathic Institute of the Immaculate, could explain why skin cancer rates are so much lower in Mediterranean populations than those in northern Europe, the US and Australia. Only around three in every 100,000 people living in Mediterranean countries develop malignant melanoma, compared with up to 22 per 100,000 in Scandinavia and 50 per 100,000 in Australia.
The latest research, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, concludes that eating foods like oranges, lemons, carrots, spinach, nuts, oily fish, fresh rosemary and olive oil could significantly reduce the chances of the disease.
But the study did have some good news for tea-loving Brits. The nation's favourite hot beverage was also found to halve cancer risk, while other drinks, including coffee and wine, appeared to offer no benefit.
Malignant melanomas develop when cells within moles become cancerous and start to divide uncontrollably, eventually spreading through the body. Some evidence suggests even a few early bouts of sunburn in childhood can be enough to trigger the cellular changes in moles that lead to skin cancer later in life.
Source - Telegraph