You protect yourself against harmful UV rays. You know you should wear sunscreen and a hat when you go outside. You wear sunglasses, try not to get too much sun exposure, you’ve bought the right clothes. You think you’ve done all that you can do to prevent skin cancer.

Your doctor may have told you that an SPF 15 or higher sunscreen is all you need before you even think about stepping one foot out the door, but now some new research has come to light. There might be a little more you can do, and it’s delicious.

Eating right. Studies have shown that consuming the right foods may help ward off skin cancer. The results have been promising in these studies. Adding another layer of protection to your skin cancer prevention measures won’t hurt. We promise.

The most common types of skin cancers are nonmelanoma skin cancers (NMSC). They include basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma (BCC and SCC). They’re the most common cancers in the United States of America. Over five million cases of NMSC are treated in at least three million people every year. Current research suggests that small dietary changes may be one way to bring those staggering numbers down dramatically.

Most skin cancers are caused by sun damage blisters. Most occur because of overexposure to the sun directly or from tanning beds. (Side note: Tanning beds are not your friend. Avoid them at all costs.) UV exposure does considerable, life-altering, if not life-threatening, damage to your skin. It generates free radicals, nasty oxygen molecules that cause inflammation and damage normal, healthy, functioning cells and damage your skin’s DNA. That damage causes changes in your genes that in turn cause mutations that lead to a diagnosis of skin cancer.

After years of study and debate about substances known as antioxidants, research has shown that they can make the difference between someone developing skin cancer or someone never having to suffer from this entirely preventable disease. Dermatologists have finally caught on to this idea and are actively advising patients to feast on nutrient-dense foods. Some are even suggesting that their patients apply topical products containing antioxidants in addition to their sunscreens.
Combing the use of antioxidant-rich foods and supplements is best for disease prevention. Be mindful that high doses of vitamins could also be detrimental to your health. Stick to the recommended daily amounts of any supplement or nutrient.

Experts recommend the following for best results:

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin E
  • Zinc
  • Selenium
  • Beta Carotene
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Lycopene
  • Polyphenols

You can find most of these at any health food store. You can also find healthy doses of them in the foods that you eat, provided they’re not processed or sugar-laden. You want them in their most healthy state for optimum results. Most of those listed have also been shown to promote good heart health and to help protect against diabetes. Again, if consumed in moderation, according to the recommended daily value these foods can help you live a long, healthy life.