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You Are What You Eat

It might seem as though I talk a lot about skin cancers on these pages. That’s because it is a very real, but often overlooked, potential problem. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, and women age 39 and under have a higher probability of developing its most serious form, melanoma, than they do any other invasive cancer except breast cancer. Whether it’s a matter of staying out of the sun completely, steering clear of tanning beds, wearing a hat with a wide brim (though staying under an umbrella is better!), using high SPF, or taking vitamins before prolonged sun exposure, I advocate taking proactive steps to avoid damaging your skin, thereby opening up the possibility of melanoma.

Well, soon you will be able to add one more thing to your arsenal of preventive products – broccoli. Studies have shown that the compound sulforaphane – which occurs in broccoli in high concentrations – may help reduce the risk of skin cancer. Here’s the twist – the sulforaphane doesn’t help when you ingest it – but when you apply it directly to your skin.

Though still in trials and studies, the sulforaphane topical product can revolutionize the anti-skin cancer movement because broccoli is prolific and relatively inexpensive as a commodity. All researchers are sure of at this time is that the compound does reduce sun burn. Research has not concluded yet on the whole skin cancer issue, but I’ll keep you posted on this site.

In the meantime – there are a few well known foods that can help reduce the risk of cancer in general and skin cancer in particular. Think about keeping supplies of these foods on hand. You’ll find that many of them are on a Mediterranean-based diet as that population tends to get less skin cancer than others. In fact, the International Journal of Epidemiology has reported that the Mediterranean diet of vegetables, fruits, olive oil, fish, and fresh herbs was found to cut melanoma risk by 50 percent. This is attributed to anti-oxidants, substances that help the body fight oxidative damage caused by the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation and other toxins in our environment. However, UV radiation is still thought to be the biggest risk factor for skin cancer.

Until you can start slathering broccoli on your skin, try including more of these in your diet:
Fish – great for healthy skin in any case, the anti-inflammatory omega-3s also double melanoma protection.
Herbs – herbs make everything taste better and fortify your skin at the same time. One tablespoon of herbs provides just about as many anti-oxidants as a piece of fruit – without the calories.

Tea – studies have concluded that the antioxidants in green, white and some black teas inhibit the proteins that are precursors to skin cancer.

Red Wine – Resveratrol, a potent anti-oxidant, is more concentrated in red wine than any other wine or food. Personally – I’m happy to take this one at face value.

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