We have always thought that citrus is perfectly good for our health, no matter how much we eat. Such Citrus is loaded with vitamin C and fibers and they have been known to help us fight obesity, lower the risk of stroke and boost our energy levels.
However, even if it is associated with a lower risk of developing certain types of cancer, a recent study proves that there might be a link between the risk of developing melanoma and the consumption of large quantities of citrus, predominantly of orange juice or grapefruit eaten as such.
A team of researchers from Brown School University looked at the dietary habits of more than 100,000 U.S. citizens and discovered that those who drank orange juice (about 170 ml) or ate citrus (half a grapefruit) 1.6 times on average every day had a 36 percent higher chance of developing skin cancer than the ones who consumed citrus two times a week or even more rarely than that. 1,840 people out of the 100,000 studied developed melanoma later in life.
The researchers believe this might be due to the high content of furocoumarins that citrus fruit has. This is a substance that plants produce and which is known to be photoactive. This makes it more toxic when exposed to UV radiation, which is very harmful to the skin. Thus, the skin can become more sensitive to this type of radiation and lead to melanoma.
Age was not a factor that affected the results, even if other habits a person might have could considerably increase the risk. These include extended sun exposure, smoking, alcohol intake and diet.
However, the researchers especially warn people against exposure to UV radiation if citrus fruit is on the list of foods they consume daily: “those who consume a lot of grapefruit and/or orange juice should be particularly careful to avoid prolonged sun exposure,” said lead study author Shaowei Wu.
The study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology was regarded as “intriguing” by the American Society of Clinical Oncology who claim that further research needs to be carried out before people are recommended to drastically reduce their intake of citrus.
Other experts who were not involved in the study said that there are various shortcomings to the newly published paper. These included the small number of people whose data has been analyzed and the inconsistencies in terms of the different forms in which citrus affected these people (orange juice was harmful but the fruit was not, while grapefruit was harmful only as fruit).
Other doctors pointed out that the higher risk of melanoma might result from other habits rather than a daily intake of citrus.
Image Source: eatingwell