Eating fatty food does not appear to increase the risk of skin cancer. A study published today in the open access journal BMC Cancer contradicts previous research that showed a link between high fat intake and certain types of skin cancer. The results of this latest study suggest that high fat intake might even play a protective role in the development of non-melanoma skin cancer.
Robert Granger and colleagues from the Menzies Research Institute in Hobart, Australia and colleagues from Murdoch Children's Research Institute in Melbourne studied 652 people who had been diagnosed with skin melanoma – the aggressive skin cancer that spreads to other tissues – or non-melanoma skin cancers – skin cancers that are less likely to spread to other tissues - between 1998 and 1999. They compared these patients with 471 individuals who did not have skin cancer. Both patients and control subjects were asked to fill in a questionnaire about their fat intake, history of sun exposure and other factors of interest. The data was analysed at that point, showing that the control subjects reported marginally higher levels of fat consumption. All subjects were subsequently followed for about 5 years to see if they developed any non-melanoma skin cancers.
Granger and colleagues found no evidence that high fat intake increases the risk of developing melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers. Patients who had previously been diagnosed with a skin cancer other than melanoma even had a lower risk of getting a further non-melanoma skin cancer if they reported consuming more fat. Statistical analyses reveal a lowered risk of non-melanoma skin cancer in people who consumed the most fat.
This contradicts previous studies that suggested that high fat intake may enhance the cancer-promoting effects of ultraviolet radiation – the main cause of skin cancer.
Article: Association Between Dietary Fat and Skin Cancer in an Australian Population Using Case-Control and Cohort Study Designs. Robert H Granger, Leigh C Blizzard, Jayne Fryer and Terence Dwyer. BMC Cancer 2006, (in press)
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