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Cancer and Healthy Eating Blog

by CarolineH

Recipes and nutrition tips
02 January 2018 at 10:32

Nutrition - Skin Cancer

I cannot believe that we are now in 2018. I sincerely hope that this year brings some peace and positivity to you and new motivation for those looking for strength.

I want to start this year continuing the work that I started at the latter end of last year i.e. looking and specific cancers and nutrition and diet.

In preparation for this in June I did a blog on all the different types of research that are available. I explained what each type meant. Important for those that do their own research online. I followed this in July with a blog on the ideal diet. I gathered information on the latest findings and summarised them in a chart that is easy to understand and follow. You may like to re- read these.

I have so far covered breast cancer, prostate cancer and colorectal cancer. This month I want to look at skin cancer and melanoma.

As always there is a huge amount of information available. I have selected the common themes and summarised the information for you. Most of the good research focuses on eating a Mediterranean type of diet. The evidence for this is strong.

The majority of skin cancers are linked to exposure to sunlight and UVA rays that can damage the skin cells. UVA rays have several lines of attack
• They can damage the DNA of the cells which then release oxygen molecules called free radicals. A diet high in anti -oxidants can help to combat this process.
• They can deplete the function of the immune system.
• They can cause damage to certain proteins and fats within the cell.
• UVA’s can lead to the activation of pathways and the development of new proteins that increase cell proliferation and inflammation.
• However, many pieces of research seem to think that blaming exposure to the sun is too simplistic and oestrogen and oestrogen mimics have been named also low immune systems for what ever reason. I do know that those with transplants on immune supressing drugs have to avoid the sun because of the risk of skin cancers forming. Poor diet prolonged stress can also affect the functioning of the immune system.

Ironically a great deal of research focusses on the importance of sufficient vitamin D and skin cancers. As we know most of the vitamin D we get comes from the sunshine. I have already written a blog on the importance of vitamin D as an immune booster and its ability to normalize cell function. We can of course get some vitamin D from the foods that we eat. Namely oily types of fish like salmon, sardines and tuna. Also from egg yolks, fortified cereals, fortified plant based milks and mushrooms that have been exposed to sunlight. You can now buy mushrooms high in vitamin D. Some people may of course go down the supplement route. Always check with one of your medical team first. 400-600iu’s is the recommended amount.

The eating plan that I have already linked to above should certainly help to boost your immune system as it is high in anti -oxidants that help to neutralize the damage the free radicals can cause.

Research highlighted some anti -oxidants in particular showed potential specifically against skin cancers. It is important to note here that it is better to get the anti- oxidants form foods rather than supplements as there seems to be more potential this way because of the synergistic effect that whole foods have as opposed to individual supplements.
It may be useful here to look at the anti -oxidants that have been particularly mentioned and the foods that you can get them from.

Beta carotene – carrots, butternut squash, mangoes, sweet potatoes. Anything with a red orange pigment and kale.
Lutein- squash, kale and collard greens
Lycopene- cooked tomatoes and tomato products, water melon and apricots dried and fresh.
Selenium- brazil nuts, and any vegetables grown in selenium rich soil.
Vitamin C – citrus fruits, berry fruits, fresh tomatoes and red peppers
Vitamin E – Almonds, other nuts, full fat dairy foods, oils and eggs.

Although I have listed the anti-oxidants and food sources, if you try and eat a diet similar to the one posted which is principally like the Mediterranean style diet, making sure that you have a wide variety of foods in the diet then you will be doing exactly the right thing.

Omega 3, not an anti -oxidant but worth mentioning for its well documented ability to help reduce inflammation and to provide essential fatty acids. Omega 3 is abundant in oily types of fish, walnuts, pumpkin seeds and flaxseeds and their oils.

As always it is best if possible to avoid processed and pre -packaged foods and foods high in sugars as these have very little nutritional value, can be high is salt and hydrogenated fats and have been shown to deplete the immune system.
As always if any of you have any questions then please do contact me as I would be very happy to help.


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