Mediterranean Diet May Guard Against Skin Cancer – Study

The beach season may be drawing to a close. But a new study suggests eating a Mediterranean-style diet may help protect you from the sun’s damaging rays.

A study in Nutrition Reviews reports that a diet rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, like the diet eaten in Mediterranean regions where melanoma rates are extremely low, can help guard again skin cancer.

Dr. Niva Shapira of Tel Aviv University’s School of Health Professions, who was involved in the study, explained that the sun’s rays damage the skin and the immune system by penetrating the skin and causing “photo-oxidation.” That affects both the cells themselves and the body’s ability to repair any damage.

Shapiria said people should “go Greek” with foods such as olive oil, fish, yogurt and colorful fruits and vegetables to fight the oxidizing effect of the sun.

“In foods, many vitamins and various antioxidants and bioactive ingredients work to support one another and the body’s natural protective mechanisms,” she said in a news release.

Previous research demonstrated that the sun’s UV rays damage the skin by exciting its molecules and causing them to become oxidized, Shapira said.

“My theory was that if you prepared the body with sufficient and relevant antioxidants, damage could be reduced.”

Shapira also recommended regular applications of sunscreen and appropriate body coverings such as hats, beach cover-ups, and other sportswear.

For a study at the Baltic Sea, Shapira and Professor Bodo Kuklinski of the University of Rostock in Germany organized two groups. One was given a drink high in antioxidants, while the other drank beverages such as sodas.

Those who hydrated with the antioxidant-rich drink had 50% fewer oxidation products in their blood at the end of the two-week period, which included five to six hours of exposure to the sun daily.

Further studies proved that these antioxidants, especially carotenoids ― fruit and vegetable pigments like red from tomatoes and watermelons and orange from carrots and pumpkins that accumulate in the skin where they serve as a first line of protection ― had delayed the phenomenon of skin erythema, which indicates the initiation of tissue and DNA damage that can lead to skin cancer.

Claude S. Weiller
Vice President of Sales & Marketing
California Olive Ranch

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