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Feed Your Face: Foods That Fight Skin Cancer

By Dr Jessica Wu

Research shows that 40 to 50 percent of Americans will be diagnosed with either basal cell or squamous cell skin cancer in their lifetime. The good news is that you can help prevent new and recurrent skin cancers by choosing your food carefully (in addition, of course, to using sunscreen and having your skin checked regularly). If you have noticeable sun damage or a history of severe sunburns, a family history of skin cancer, or a previous skin cancer diagnosis, you’ll want to follow these tips on what -- and what not -- to eat:

Eat less fat. A high-fat diet -- particularly one high in fatty meat, fried foods, and fried take-out food -- has been linked to a greater risk of developing basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers, especially if you’ve had skin cancer before. In addition, a low-fat diet (in which less than 20 percent of your total calories come from fat) has been shown to reduce the incidence of precancerous actinic keratoses and skin cancers in those with a previous history of skin cancer.

Eat more fish. Fish oils can boost your skin’s natural immune defenses against skin cancer. For example, one serving of oily fish every five days has been shown to reduce the incidence of new precancerous growths by 28 percent.

Try Heliocare. Extracted from the South American fern Polypodium leucotomos, this oral supplement (which you can find at drugstores) has been shown to protect the skin from UV rays that sneak past sunscreen.

For more advice on how to prevent and fight sun damage and skin cancer with food, check out Chapter 6 of Feed Your Face.

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