Remarkable: can grapefruit cause melanoma?

Grapefruit And Melanoma

Fresh orange juice or a grapefruit during your breakfast every day is healthy, but it may have a sour aftertaste. A possible link between citrus fruits and the development of melanoma has been found. Melanoma is an aggressive form of skin cancer and the number of melanoma cases is increasing in the Netherlands. Statistics show that the Netherlands is in the top 5 with the most skin cancer in Europe.

A US questionnaire study followed the diet, lifestyle and sun behavior of 63,810 women and 41,622 men in health care. After a follow-up of 24-26 years, 1840 people had been diagnosed with melanoma. Orange (fruit + juice), grapefruit (fruit + juice) intake was included in the questionnaire.

Conclusion of the study: 36% more likely if you consume more than 1.6 citrus fruits per day compared to less than 2 citrus fruits per week. For grapefruit there is even a 41% increased risk if you consume 3 times a week compared to no grapefruit eaters. Remarkably, there was no association between melanoma and grapefruit juice.

What’s in grapefruit besides vitamin C that gives an increased risk?

The responsible substance in citrus fruits is called psoralen and makes the skin more sensitive to sunlight. Read more about medication and photosensitivity.

Study limitations: only oranges and grapefruit and not lemon, lime were research examined. The research group consisted exclusively of people in health care, who may have a different diet and lifestyle. You cannot generalize the results. The group had to fill in a questionnaire and there may be a memory bias. Error in the amount of grapefruit and orange consumption per day is human. After all, citrus fruits are healthy, the benefits outweigh the negative consequences.

No association with melanoma was found for other fruits and vegetables.

Grapefruit Citrusvruchten

What does all this mean?

An understandable reaction is: what is good nowadays, we can’t do anything anymore! Another nutritional study showed that coffee consumption reduced melanoma risk in men, but not in women. These studies indicate the complexity of the human body. Door het nemen van de juiste voorzorgsmaatregelen zoals UV-huidbescherming en kleding kun je zowel genieten van citrusvruchten en de zon. Prevention is better than cure and eat varied.

Read more about:sunscreen: these spots are often forgottenand UVA, UVB and SPF – what does it mean?


Wu S, Han J, Feskanich D, et al. Citrus Consumption and Risk of Cutaneous Malignant Melanoma Journal of Clinical Oncology. Published online June 29 2015

Melough MM, Wu S, Li WQ, Eaton C, Nan H, Snetselaar L, Wallace R, Qureshi AA, Chun OK, Cho E. Citrus Consumption and Risk of Cutaneous Malignant Melanoma in the Women’s Health Initiative. Nutr Cancer. 2019 Jul 23:1-8.

Caini S, Masala G, Saieva C, et al. Coffee, tea and melanoma risk: findings from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. Int J Cancer. 2017 May 15;140(10):2246-2255.

While you are here

Melanoma and obesity

Recent research has made it clear that people who are overweight, really have obesity, also suffer from chronic mild inflammation in the body. In combination with exposure to UVA radiation, this leads to an increased risk of melanoma skin cancer. More on relationship between melanoma and obesity

Picture of Dr. Francis Wu

Dr. Francis Wu

Dr. Francis Wu, een vooraanstaande dermatoloog, is de drijvende kracht achter Iconic Elements. Hij heeft sinds 2004 zijn expertise ingezet om een veilige en effectieve huidverzorgingslijn te creëren, geschikt voor zowel gezonde huid als huidproblemen. Iconic Elements, opgericht in 2016, is de eerste brede skincare lijn in Nederland ontwikkeld door een dermatoloog. Als medisch specialist streeft Dr. Wu naar het bevorderen van het welzijn van mensen door hoogwaardige en effectieve huidverzorgingsproducten te bieden. De proefdiervrije en vegan producten vermijden schadelijke chemicaliën en bevatten natuurlijke ingrediënten.
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