It looks like you’re better off ignoring what mom said all those years about eating your fruits. By polling nearly 100,000 candidates over a 26-year period, a surprising study in the American Journal of Clinical Oncology found a link between citrus consumption and the risk of developing deadly skin cancers like melanoma.
Out of the nearly three decades worth of data, the people who consumed more than a serving and a half per day were 36 percent more likely to get skin cancer as opposed to those who had only two servings per week. The study found that eating citrus fruits wasn’t legitimately linked to any other types of cancers. For the purposes of the survey, the doctors defined a serving of citrus fruit as the equivalent of half of a grapefruit, one orange, or a small 6 oz. glass of grapefruit or orange juice.
Scientists think the culprit behind the potential cancer may be substances called furocoumarins, which are commonly found in citrus fruits. Furocoumarins act to make the skin more sensitive to sunlight, which causes your body to be more susceptible to toxic UV rays that cause skin cancers.
Shaowei Wu, PhD, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Department of Dermatology at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, and the lead author on the study, explained, “At this time, we don’t advise that people cut back on citrus — but those who consume a lot of grapefruit and/or orange juice should be particularly careful to avoid prolonged sun exposure.”
Though the findings are scary, especially if you prefer to down some juice with your breakfast, spokespeople from the American Society of Clinical Oncology say it’s OK to drink up your Minute Maid or Tropicana but just be sure to wear sunscreen. “Until conclusive data are available,” said ASCO’s Gary Schwartz, “we should continue to be cautious about protecting our skin from sun exposure.”
Either way, we can now add citrus to the long list of food that can give you cancer. Anybody want to get some coffee?