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Using Diet to Prevent Skin Cancer

Consuming certain vegetables and citrus can decrease the risk of melanoma, says Dr. Paul Stallone

by Dr. Paul Stallone

Just as food gives us life, it can also take it away. Diabetes, cancer, joint pain, obesity, heart disease and allergies can be encouraged by eating the wrong foods. A better diet can be customized for amazing potential.

The summer months remind us of the dangers of skin cancer. While some sun exposure is essential for head-to-toe good health, too much can lead to DNA damage. The sun’s ultraviolet radiation can harm skin cells, which then release oxygen molecules known as free radicals. These free radicals can hurt our genetic material in a way that skin cancer is formed. Free radicals wreak absolute havoc on one’s body and are responsible for much more than skin cancer.

Consuming several servings of cruciferous (broccoli and kale) and dark leafy (spinach and collard greens) vegetables each day, along with citrus, can provide antioxidants that include polyphenols, carotenoids and other bioactive substances that may decrease the risk for melanoma. Organic fruits and vegetables are best whenever possible.

When skin is damaged by the sun, new blood vessels grow in a process called angiogenesis, and cancer cells can hijack them to sustain themselves. Anti-angiogenesis foods can assist in starving cancer cells, stopping them from growing and spreading. Omega-3 fatty fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and trout are a great source for anti-angiogenesis benefits. A 2009 study published study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found people that ate just one serving of these fish every five days developed 28 percent fewer actinic keratoses, a scaly precancerous skin growth. These fish should be wild caught, as farmed fish can contain dyes, chemicals, antibiotics and PCB, a carcinogen for humans and animals.

Fresh herbs can add not only flavor to many dishes, but also antioxidants. Each has different properties, so eating a variety can enable more antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial benefits. Herbs provide immune support, better wound recovery, improved brain function and nausea relief. Creating a home herb garden ensures a readily available organic supply.

What we drink is just as important as what we eat; so don’t neglect what we use to hydrate our body. Black and green teas are full of polyphenol antioxidants that may inhibit the proteins necessary for skin cancer to develop and help scavenge free radicals throughout the body. Tea is a healthier choice for a caffeine boost than coffee because it isn’t as acidic. A glass of wine contains components such as catechins and resveratrol that may inhibit the growth of some human cancer cells.

Eating to prevent disease and slow aging is a great way to think about food. Food gives us life, and something that important should be given much thought and consideration. Every single thing we eat will either fight or feed disease. Some people might need a little more support than what food can supply. Having a knowledgeable physician customize a preventative treatment plan can allow for the appropriate recommendations. Foods and supplements are not universal or one-size-fits-all remedies.

A trained physician can recommend specific foods for individual needs and perform treatments like IV therapies and homeopathics, and conduct testing to pinpoint food sensitivities. This physician could also assist with an alternative treatment for cancer. Many skin cancers respond very well to naturopathic treatment. During any stage of cancer, nutrition and guidance are extremely important. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer, but with the right tools and nutrition, it can be prevented and treated.