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Foods, Drugs and Vitamins May Help Prevent Skin Cancer

Posted: August 12, 2010
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Animal studies and emerging clinical studies suggest that the abundance of antioxidant polyphenols in green tea and grape seed extract may play an important role in helping to prevent the onset and growth of skin tumors. Similarly, the pomegranate fruit also is thought to be effective in promoting skin health since it has very high levels of antioxidants called flavonoids that have been shown to counteract various cancer-causing free radicals.

“It remains unclear precisely how these natural antioxidants work, but they all are considered powerful when used externally,” said Elmets. “These substances also have an anti-inflammatory effect, which is known to be chemopreventive. However, it is important to remember that the FDA has not approved the use of these natural antioxidants as chemopreventive agents, and controlled studies need to be conducted in humans to determine whether they may help prevent skin cancer. At present, the evidence to support these benefits is largely based on animal studies.”

“As dermatologists, we will always recommend sunscreens and sun-smart behaviors, like seeking shade, wearing hats and limiting sun exposure. These lifestyle strategies are vital to preventing skin cancer and should not be replaced,” added Elmets. “However, I could envision in the future that we also may recommend a cocktail of chemopreventive agents to provide patients enhanced protection against UV-induced skin cancers. Our hope is that further human studies will help us better understand how to effectively incorporate these new agents into practice and thereby turn the tide on the escalating rate of skin cancer in this country.”