Eating lots of carrots, broccoli and sweet potatoes can help prevent skin cancer, a new study suggests.
All these vegetables are – in addition to other vegetables, certain parts of animals and some types of fruit and legumes – rich in vitamin A, an important nutrient to keep the skin healthy.
Not only will eating many of these foods help ensure that your body is constantly producing new skin cells, they can also protect against the carcinogenic effects of UV light, according to a new study from Brown University.
It is the first vitamin A study that subjects followed for more than 20 years and discovered that a high nutrient intake is associated with a 17 percent lower risk of skin cancer, the studies say – but they warn that supplements alone don't work. .
Eating vitamin A-rich foods such as carrots can protect against skin cancer, finds a 26-year study
More than 19 million skin cells cover your entire body.
But every day you shed between 30,000 and 40,000, which means that the body is constantly working hard to produce new skin cells to replace the skin cells that we lose.
Vitamin A plays a crucial role in this process to not only produce skin cells, but also to retain cells called fibroblasts that keep the skin firm and healthy.
The precursor to vitamin A, called beta-carotene, is a powerful antioxidant that helps clear up free radicals, roaming compounds that stimulate the development of cancer cells.
The involvement in healthy skin is clear, but little research has been done into the preventive effects of vitamin A (also called retinol) on skin cancer, which affects between seven and 11 percent of people with fair skin.
If someone has a higher risk of skin cancer due to high sun exposure or family history, a higher vitamin A intake can offer a relatively simple lifestyle change to counter those risks.
So researchers at Brown University studied a data set of 123,570 American men and women whose diet, habits and health outcomes have been documented for more than 26 years.
Encouragingly, the scientists found that almost everyone was fed enough vitamin D, which exceeded and exceeded the recommended intake of 3,000 IU for men and 2,331 for women.
Nearly 4,000 of the study participants developed squamous cell carcinoma, a form of skin cancer.
But the more vitamin A they consumed in their daily diet, the less risk for skin cancer men and women were.
However, the same guardian was not offered by oral vitamin A supplements, suggesting that eating and digesting the nutrient in food is somehow important to reap its benefits.
Topical cream forms of vitamin A, called retinoids, sometimes prescribed to treat acne and delay aging by encouraging the production of new skin cells.
So a small earlier trial tested whether the current could help prevent skin cancer in veterans at high risk of the disease.
But that too had no significant effect on who got skin cancer and who didn't.
In addition, synthetic retinoids have unpleasant side effects, such as drying the skin, making it red and irritated and more sensitive to sunlight.
The authors of the new study, published in JAMA Dermatology, suggest that boosting vitamin A dietary intake may be a better, more harmless way to combat the risks of skin cancer.
However, they note that even when consumed in part of the normal diet, too much vitamin A can be linked to greater risk for osteoporosis and hip fractures, major concerns for older people, who are also more likely to have skin cancer to get.
For all others, eating lots of carrots, sweet potatoes, sweet red peppers, spinach and pea with black eyes, as well as beef and cod liver, can combat cancerous mutations in the skin.
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