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Eating more citrus may increase risk of melanoma, study says
One of summers most beloved fruit groups citrus may be linked to melanoma. - photo by Jessica Ivins
One of summers most beloved fruit groups citrus may be linked to melanoma.

Thats according to a new analysis of several long-term studies, which found people who ate citrus two to four times a week were 10 percent more likely to get melanoma than those who consumed citrus less than twice a week.

Researchers were quick to note, however, that the study published this week in the Journal of Clinical Oncology did not seek to find out if citrus fruits were actually causing melanoma, and that more research was needed establish and confirm a link. Additionally, the study was merely an observational one, and thus may not be an accurate representation of the entire U.S. population, according to Yahoo Health.

The research team led by Dr. Abrar Qureshi, chairman of dermatology at Brown University looked at data collected from more than 100,000 American men and women over 25 years. The data included dietary information and medical records collected every two years from the 1980s to 2010, according to the study.

Researchers found 1,840 cases of melanoma overall.

Using that data, researchers discovered participants who reported regular grapefruit and orange juice consumption had an increased risk of developing malignant melanoma. For those who consumed citrus twice a week or less, the risk disappeared.

Qureshi noted that even accounting for factors such as sun exposure and geographic location, the more citrus one consumed, the greater the risk of melanoma. In fact, the risk jumped to 36 percent for those who reported eating the fruits more than 1.5 times a day, according to the study.

The problem may be in the compounds of the citrus. The fruits contain furocoumarins photoactive chemicals that make skin more susceptible to sunburn when applied topically, according to Qureshi.

Youll see children get a sunburn in spots where a citrus popsicle dripped down the chin, for example, Qureshi told CBS News. The citrus cant hurt you without the excessive sun exposure.

Despite the findings, theres no good reason to give up citrus just yet.

We are not recommending changing fruit consumption as these fruits and vegetables are important for overall health, Qureshi told Yahoo Health. However, until we learn more about these furocoumarins, those consuming fresh citrus fruits on a regular basis should be extra careful with sun exposure, and depending on their outdoor activities they should wear appropriate sunscreen, hats and sun-protective clothing.

Melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer and will take the lives of nearly 10,000 Americans this year, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.
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