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Consuming Citrus Could Up Your Skin Cancer Risk

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A glass of orange juice is a breakfast go-to, but while it may go perfectly with eggs and toast, it doesn't jive so well with another a.m. staple: the sun. Citrus fruits increase your skin's sensitivity to sunlight and are linked to an increased risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, according to a large new study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Some surprising findings from the research: People who drank OJ daily were 25 percent more likely to develop the deadly skin cancer, and those who munched on whole grapefruit were nearly 50 percent more likely. The scientists chalk this difference up to "photoactive" chemicals in citrus, particularly psoralens and furocoumarins—known to make skin more sensitive to the sun.

But that doesn't mean you shouldn't eat the healthy fruits, say the researchers. Citrus fruits have previously been linked to numerous health benefits including a lower risk of heart disease, arthritis, Alzheimer's, gallstones, Crohn's, and many other diseases, according to Australian research.

"We certainly wouldn't want people to avoid fruits that are generally good for their health," Abrar Qureshi, M.D., chair of dermatology at Brown University and lead author of the study said in a release. "Just be aware that there's an association with melanoma, and perhaps be extra careful about sun protection on days you're eating citrus fruits." (One of these 20 Sun Products to Help Protect Your Skin should do the trick.)

And extra sun protection is good advice for all of us regardless of diet, as melanoma is still the No. 1 cancer killer of young adults. So tuck an extra bottle in your purse, stay in the shade, and bring on the fruit salad.

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