Anyone who is 100 percent done with the cold grip of winter will be happy to know that summer is just around the corner. Whether you are looking forward to longer days, afternoons spent unwinding on a sandy shore, or a chance to go on vacation with the people you love, summer has a way of infusing life with a bit of joy and excitement. Unfortunately, it also brings about some serious health concerns, such as skin cancer.
Statistics about skin cancer have not changed much in recent years (1). According to one estimate, more than 5.4 million cases of non-melanoma skin cancer are treated in more than 3.3. million people in the United States each year (2).
While finding the appropriate sunscreen should be at the top of your priority list, there are a few other ways to boost your skin’s natural sun protection. Eating specific foods, for example, can be a simple and effective way to increase your skin’s defenses.
Citrus fruits are packed with an assortment of vitamins and nutrients your body can benefit from. You might already know that fruits in this category contain ample amounts of vitamin C, but you might not be aware that citrus also generally contains potassium, vitamin E, copper, vitamin B6 and more.
By giving your body a nice dose of citrus each day, experts say you are significantly less likely to experience sunburn. Since these irritations to the skin increase your risk of skin cancer, citrus can be another line of defense for your body.
One study found that participants who consumed more citrus and citrus peel were far less likely to develop cancerous cells in their bodies (3). Though eating more citrus is not a cure by any means, it’s a preventative step that can help provide an extra layer of sun protection.
Tomatoes are a fruit closely associated with summer. Whether you grow them in your garden, buy them from a farmer’s market or order them online, you most likely incorporate tomatoes into many of your meals during the warmer months. A tomato is not only good for a salad. In fact, a number of studies suggest eating tomatoes regularly might help to significantly reduce the odds of developing certain types of cancer.
The science behind this study is quite interesting. Tomatoes, like almost all red fruits, are said to contain high levels of the carotene known as lycopene (4). Consuming tomatoes and other fruits rich with lycopene on a daily basis might actually help cut your skin cancer risk in half.
This is an easy addition to your routine. All you need to do is cut a tomato into slices for a snack, sprinkle on some salt and cracked pepper, and enjoy the delicious taste and the cancer-fighting properties. Don’t like tomatoes? Red cabbage, grapefruit and peppers are also excellent sources of lycopene.
Protecting your skin by eating ample fruits and veggies can be a great move to make. Of course, you might also want to add some meat into your diet. If you are a fan of fish, you’ll be happy to learn that wild salmon contains some incredibly useful nutrients when it comes to sun protection. Salmon, like most fish, are filled with omega-3 fatty acids. The omega-3s found in most wild salmon are said to actively work toward preventing skin cancer.
The fatty acids of the salmon not only help to increase the skin’s natural protection against harmful UV rays. Studies have shown eating fish rich with omega-3s can also help to prevent collagen in the skin from being damaged, diminished or destroyed by prolonged exposure to the sun (5).
While you don’t need to eat salmon as regularly as tomatoes or citrus, you can benefit from including fish in your weekly meal plan. When used in conjunction with sunscreen, eating a balanced diet can help keep your skin well-protected this summer.