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Skin cancer

Eating spinach slashes skin cancer recurrence risk by 55 percent

Thursday, December 07, 2006 by: Jessica Fraser
Tags: skin cancer, cancer risk, spinach

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(NewsTarget) Eating green, leafy vegetables may reduce the risk of skin cancer recurrence by as much as 55 percent, according to the results of an 11-year Australian study.

The study, led by Dr. Jolieke van der Pols of the Queensland Institute of Medical Research, found that participants who ate at least three servings of green leafy vegetables per week -- such as spinach -- more than halved their risk of skin cancer recurrence.

The researchers found that leafy vegetables such as spinach and silverbeet (chard) were linked to the reduction in skin cancer risk, especially for patients who had a history of the disease.

According to van der Pols, the vegetables contain a wide array of healthy vitamins, minerals and anticancer nutrients, which may explain their ability to reduce cancer risk.

"Other research that has looked at individual nutrients haven't found very clear evidence [of skin cancer risk reduction], so it might be that actually the combination of nutrients as they occur normally in the foods that we eat, actually have the effect on skin cancer," van der Pols said.

"Green leafy vegetables are good sources of folic acid, vitamins A, C and E, the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, and other components which may help boost the skin's natural defense against damage caused by UV rays," she said. "This new evidence suggests that an increase in consumption of these foods may help to reduce the risk of skin cancer recurring among those with a previous history by up to 55 percent."

Consumer health advocate Mike Adams, author of "The Healing Power of Sunlight and Vitamin D," called van der Pols' research "groundbreaking," and said the best sunscreen is good nutrition.

"The conventional cancer industry has so far refused to acknowledge any serious link between diet and skin care, preferring to push sunscreen products sold by corporations that donate heavily to the cancer industry," Adams said.

"The truth is finally coming out, and spinach isn't the only food with this sunscreen effect," he said. "Astaxanthin is a nutritional supplement that's even more powerful as a sunscreen."

Dr. van der Pols said consumers should boost their intake of leafy, green vegetables, in addition to taking precautions when in the sun, such as wearing a hat and protective clothing.


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