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Could Eating Citrus Fruit Raise Your Risk of Getting Skin Cancer?

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Citrus fruit is packed with vitamin C, which is why it’s been a go-to health snack for generations. But a new study is drawing links between the consumption of citrus fruits like oranges, limes, and lemons, and skin cancer.

The study, which was led by Dr. Abrar Qureshi of the Warren Alpert Medical School at Brown University, involved an examination of data collected through two long-term studies of men and women. Overall, about 63,000 women and 41,000 men were associated with the study, which involved an analysis of dietary patterns and significant health events (like cancer diagnoses) between the mid-1980s and 2010.

In the end, researchers discovered 1,840 cases of melanoma, or skin cancer. They also found that the people who ate citrus fruit two to four times each week had a 10-percent higher risk of acquiring melanoma. In fact, melanoma risk increased along with citrus consumption, with grapefruit appearing to have the strongest association with skin cancer.

Researchers still don’t know why this link would exist and insist there needs to be further research investigating the connection between melanoma and citrus fruit consumption.

For the time being, Qureshi says people shouldn’t be scared off citrus fruit. “We are NOT recommending changing fruit consumption as these fruits and vegetables are important for overall health,” he said. “However, until we learn more…those consuming fresh citrus fruits on a regular basis should be extra careful with sun exposure, and depending on their outdoor activities they should wear appropriate sunscreen, hats and sun-protective clothing.”

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