Melanoma Recurrence and Your Diet

I have become very particular about what I eat. I made a commitment to maintaining a healthy diet over two years ago and lost 70 pounds and have been able to keep the extra weight off through exercise and making better nutritional choices. I came to realize that I needed to put better fuel into my body if I wanted better performance. Why would I want my body to perform like a Maserati (or, even a Honda CRV) and treat it like a “clunker.” Would it make sense to put the lowest octane gasoline possible into a sports car?

A healthy diet for melanoma prevention

I have seen the benefits of maintaining clean eating habits. It’s never easy in the land of pizza, beer, and Buffalo wings, but I have been diligent. My cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure are all down without taking medication, but what about skin cancer? Can my diet affect my chances of having melanoma again? Is there anything I should be eating that may lessen my risk? I am always looking for an edge that would help me.

Familiar answers

I may have found some answers. There are foods that may prevent melanoma recurrence. I wonder if these include Oreos and ice cream? Well, unfortunately not, and your waistline will thank you for that. Here are some recommendations on foods to eat that may help with skin cancer and look to be great for overall nutritional health:1

  • Foods rich in selenium like brazil nuts, chicken, and grass-fed beef.
  • Foods rich in antioxidants like leafy green vegetables (kale, spinach, collard greens, broccoli, brussels sprouts). These may protect from cell damage caused by free radicals.
  • Foods rich in lycopene, which are red fruits like tomatoes, watermelon, guava, and papaya.
  • Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids like fish and shellfish (salmon, mackerel, and herring). Fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which has shown to protect against skin cancer progression. Shellfish are rich in zinc, which may help with antioxidant levels and your body's immune system.
  • Nuts and seeds like walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, flax seed, wheat germ are good sources of omega 3’s and vitamin E, which is an antioxidant.
  • Foods rich in beta carotene. These are orange fruits and vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, cantaloupe, and apricots.
  • Foods rich in zinc like legumes (chickpeas, black beans, and edamame).
  • Foods rich in vitamin D. These can be fortified foods like milk, yogurt, and cereal, or foods high in vitamin D naturally like sardines, salmon, tuna, egg yolks, and liver. “Research shows that adequate vitamin D intake is associated with a decreased risk of melanoma, and that people who are vitamin D deficient have a poorer outcome when diagnosed with melanoma.”2
  • Foods rich in vitamin C like citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruits, lemons, limes).
  • Foods rich in polyphenols. These include both green and black tea, which have been linked to overall cancer prevention.

Making choices

With any new changes in your diet or exercise, it’s always a good idea to check with your doctor before you begin. It seems that the food pyramid recommendations of my generation are still a pretty good rule of thumb. I try and make the most of every bite I take for my overall health and now I have even more reason to make great choices. Happy eating!!!

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