More people are diagnosed with skin cancer than all other types of cancer combined.
That’s why many of us with fair skin dread our annual trip to the dermatologist. We know what we’re in for.
Chances are, the doctor will find some spots that need to be frozen off or cut out. They might be squamous or basal cell cancers. These are by far the most common types of skin cancers. They aren’t normally life threatening. But it is painful when they are removed.
There’s also a smaller chance that a spot might be melanoma. It is serious and can be deadly.
Doctors’ standard advice to avoid skin cancer is to stay out of the sun and always wear sunscreen while outdoors. The problem is that this trades one health problem for another.
Lack of sunlight can lead to a vitamin D deficiency. This puts you at risk for heart disease, osteoporosis, dementia and other serious conditions.
Now, new research shows that one vitamin can reduce your chances of getting squamous cell cancers.
The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Dermatology. It included more than 172,000 people and followed them for up to 28 years.
The researchers grouped the subjects into five categories based on how much daily vitamin A they consumed. They found that people in the top category with the highest level of vitamin A intake were 17% less likely to get skin cancer compared with people who had the lowest intake.
Subjects at the top ate about the amount of vitamin A you’d get from two large carrots or a medium sweet potato each day. People in the lowest category ate the amount of A you’d get from one small carrot or one-third cup of sweet potato fries.
Professor Eunyoung Cho led the study. She said it “provides another reason to eat lots of fruits and vegetables.”
Keep Skin Cancer at Bay With Vitamin A
Besides protection from skin cancer, this important nutrient is needed for immune system support and good vision.
Some of the best food sources of vitamin A are:
- Orange and yellow fruits and vegetables
- Cod liver oil
- Fortified skim milk
- Broccoli and green, leafy vegetables such as spinach
Perhaps the best way to make sure you consistently get enough vitamin A is to take a supplement. Look for one that gives you 7,000 IUs a day.
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