Oh, that exhilarating sweet taste of oranges! That fresh sensation only the sourness of a grapefruit could leave on our taste buds! That giant amount of Vitamin C, the texture, the color, the juice, everything in oranges, grapefruits and lemons was thought to be highly beneficial for our health. The more so Vitamin C is known to be one of the most powerful fighters against cancer.
It seems that in the world of oranges everything is now turned upside down, as new study shows that too much citrus could lead to skin cancer. People who drink large amounts of orange juice or who eat large quantities of grapefruit are highly exposed to risks of developing melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer. It is anyhow soon and premature for us to think that we must cease eating the fruits. The more so the results of the study are nevertheless highly surprising, if not contradictory to say the least.
It seems that scientists have found certain compounds, namely furocoumarins and psoralen, substances only found in grapefruit, oranges and lemons, responsible with making the skin highly sensitive to sunlight . The two substances interact with ultraviolet light and cause melanoma cells to multiply. Psoralen was previously used as a tanning booster in suntan lotions but manufacturers have ceased to use it since 1996.
The recent study was performed on 100.000 Americans and the results showed a 36% higher risk of cancer for those who had citrus on a regular basis. Compared with people who had citrus fruit intake less than two times a week, the first group was dramatically exposed to risks.
The research only highlights an association, as cancer may appear due to a variety of factors, high orange intake included. The study is not meant to prove a cause effect relationship whatsoever.
The findings are interesting but overall, the risk to develop melanoma is pretty small, as fewer than 2% of the 100.000 study subjects in the research that was extended over a period of 25 years actually got melanoma. It is much too soon for any kind of dietary recommendations linked to grapefruit and oranges.
“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,” declares Brown lead researcher Shaowei Wu.
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