Can your diet really affect your skin cancer risk?

Other experts are similarly cautious in interpreting the study’s findings. Carrie Daniel-MacDougall, associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, writes in An email.

Dr. Daniel-MacDougall led an earlier analysis, with shorter follow-up and fewer variables, of the same NIH-AARP cohort included in the most recent study. Her paper, published in 2011, also found a correlation between fish intake and melanoma risk. However, the NIH-AARP study was originally designed to monitor many types of cancer, and it did not measure important and well-known melanoma risk factors, such as a history of sunburn or exposure to cancer. lifetime UV exposure, writes Dr. Daniel-MacDougall. People with these risk factors may have spent more time in the sun – be it at the beach or fishing – and may also have been more likely to enjoy seafood, she pointed out. out. Without more information, it is not possible to determine whether it is fish, time in the sun, or some other factor that leads to a higher risk of melanoma.

Dr Sancy Leachman, director of the Melanoma Research Program at Oregon Health & Science University, said the new study was well designed and called the findings “intriguing”. However, she says, when “you process large data sets like this,” what you find is correlations between factors, not evidence that one causes the other. This type of research is useful for developing new hypotheses – for example, that contaminants found in fish may increase the risk of melanoma – but they need more research to see if whether they are suitable or not.

“Science is evolving, and you can’t do everything overnight. It’s just part of the process,” says Dr. Leachman.

Many studies have identified a correlation between certain foods and types of cancer, but in general, when more studies are conducted and the results are considered as a whole, the effects often become smaller or disappear altogether. For melanoma in particular, limited studies have shown some strange and surprising correlations with certain foods. Eat more citrus fruit is associated with a higher risk of melanoma in some, but not all, studies, for example; and red and processed meat is associated with a lower risk of melanoma but a higher risk other cancers.

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