Here’s a worrying fact for sun-worshipping Brits: though the benefits of catching rays are myriad, rates of melanoma – the rarest but most aggressive form of skin cancer – are rising, according to Cancer Research UK. But with 86% of cases classed as preventable, there’s still a ray of hope.
One recent study in Nutrients is throwing shade on the Big C: scientists discovered that a diet rich in olive oil, onions, garlic, eggs and beans might give you some added protection against melanoma. The beneficial foods are all staple components of the so-called Mediterranean diet, which has also been shown to put the brakes on dementia, ageing and depression.
It seems that the high antioxidant content of the diet shields your cells from skin erythema – a process that marks the initiation of the tissue and DNA damage that can lead to skin cancer. The scientists who came to this conclusion prescribed “going Greek” to fight the damaging effects of the sun: that means plenty of fresh produce and healthy fats, not just more ouzo and stuffing chips into your gyros. If you’re topping up your tan on the Costa del Cornwall, sunscreen is your first line of defence, but giving your diet a Continental upgrade is a smart – and delicious – precaution, too.
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