A recent observational study published in the Journal of clinical Oncology suggested an association between citric fruit consumption with the development of malignant melanoma.
According to the study, people who ate citrus fruit 2-4 times a week had an increase of 10% in the risk of malignant melanoma than people who ate citrus less than twice per week. The senior author Dr. Abrar Qureshi, from Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and Rhode Island Hospital, has already stated that this is a one-of-its-kind study and that also observational, therefore it cannot predict the situation of the entire US nor can its results be interpreted as 100% authentic.
Dr. Qureshi worked on the study in collaboration with the Channing Division of Network Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. He further stated that “Malignant melanoma is a potentially life-threatening form of skin cancer. Though there have been some amazing advances in the treatment of cancer, its prevention by using the rays of the sun and skin cancer screening is recommended.”
Although the study concludes a preliminary association between malignant melanoma and citrus fruit, it didn’t specifically state that melanoma is caused by the intake of citrus fruit. The authors have welcomed more studies and research work in this regard.
The study included data from two other previously conducted studies. They included 63,000 women in this study from the Nurses’ Health Study and 41,000 men from another study. Both of these studies were conducted from the mid-1980s to 2010.
The participants provided information regarding their diet; how frequently they ate grapefruit, oranges, or drank orange juice. This estimated their “overall usage of citrus.” The study did not include other citrus fruits such as lemons and limes. Participants also reported health events such as the diagnosis of melanoma which was then cross checked with their medical records.
With a follow-up of 20 years, the study reports 1,840 cases of melanoma. People who ate citrus fruit 2-4 times a week had an increase of 10% in the risk of malignant melanoma than people who ate citrus less than twice per week. Melanoma risk was seen to rise proportionately with an increase in citrus consumption. A 36% risk of malignant melanoma was seen in people who ate citrus more than 1.5 times a day. The study reports grapefruit to have the greatest association with melanoma.
Dr. Qureshi explained that citrus fruits contain furocoumarins (photoactive compounds) which make people more sun sensitive and make even usual sun exposure more damaging to skin cells. He didn’t advise reduced consumption of these fruits since they are very important for health; however, he is in favor of more studies on furocoumarins.
According to Marianne Berwick of the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, 30 out of 100,000 individuals suffer from coetaneous malignant melanoma yearly in the U.S. It is the fifth most common melanoma in the U.S. and ranks sixth worldwide, he told Reuters Health. Berwick also supports further work up on this preliminary study.