Citrus Spikes Melanoma Risk

Individuals who regularly consume orange juice or grapefruit may have a higher risk of developing melanoma, according to research recently published online in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Individuals who regularly consume orange juice or grapefruit may have a higher risk of developing melanoma, according to research recently published online in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Citrus products are rich in psoralens and furocoumarins, a group of naturally occurring chemicals known to potentially possess photocarcinogenic properties.

To evaluate the hypothesized risk of cutaneous malignant melanoma linked to citrus consumption, Abrar Qureshi, MD, MPH, dermatology chair at Brown University and a practicing dermatologist at Rhode Island Hospital, and colleagues evaluated data from a total of 105,432 adults who participated in the Nurses' Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. Every 2 to 4 years, the study participants were required to complete health and lifestyle related surveys.

According to the results, 1,840 people developed melanoma over 24-26 years of follow-up. Participants who consumed orange juice at least once a day were approximately 25% more likely to develop the skin cancer.

Similarly, individuals who ate one serving of grapefruit at least three times a week had a 41% higher risk of developing melanoma.

Interestingly, resaerchers have yet to pinpoint a correlation between melanoma risk and consuming or drinking whole oranges or grapefruit juice.

Qureshi noted that the photoactive psoralens and furocoumarins contained in citrus foods make the skin more sensitive to the sun. In any case, further studies are necessary to understand the findings and explore implications for the future.