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Causes of Melanoma

Millions of skin cancers, of which melanoma is one, and thousands of deaths, are diagnosed every year in the U.S. alone. The rising increase of melanoma among young women has been blamed on the increased usage of tanning salons. Tanning beds are among the Group 1 carcinogens—those at the highest level. The risk of melanoma increased six times for those who visited tanning salons ten or more times before the age of 30.

The UV rays in sunlight are also considered a complete carcinogen—meaning they can not only initiate cancer, but promote its progression and spread.

Another possible cause of melanoma is Neu5Gc. Autopsy samples have found Neu5Gc in human breast cancer, melanoma, ovarian cancer, and brain tumors. Human beings cannot produce Neu5Gc.  Because Neu5Gc-type compounds are not found in plants, and Neu5Gc is not synthesized by microbes, the dietary source of Neu5Gc must be foods of animal origin.

Foods that Fight Melanoma

Dietary phytates, found in beans, grains, nuts, and seeds, are quickly absorbed from the digestive tract, and rapidly absorbed by cancer cells throughout the body. They have been shown to inhibit the growth of all tested cancerous cell lines, including melanoma. Phytates target and act on all principal pathways of malignancy. They function through a combination of antioxidant, anti-inflammation, and immune-enhancing activities.

Turmeric may also be helpful in fighting melanoma. Americans have between 8 and 14 times the rate of melanoma compared to those living in India. Population studies can’t prove a correlation between dietary turmeric and decreased cancer risk, but curcumin, one of the active ingredients in turmeric, has been tested against a variety of human cancers—for both prevention and treatment. 

Topic summary contributed by Sheila

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