Skin cancer is a prevalent and potentially deadly condition that affects millions worldwide. It primarily develops due to exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which can damage the DNA in skin cells. While there is no substitute for medical treatment, eating nutrient-dense foods can play a supportive role in managing skin cancer symptoms and promoting overall well-being. Here are some common symptoms of skin cancer and foods that help manage the disease:
Common symptoms of skin cancer
The three primary types of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Some of their hallmark signs include the following:
- Development of a painless open sore or ulcer that doesn’t seem to heal or keeps reopening
- Unusual moles that develop from existing moles or form anew
- Reddish, itchy patch
- Translucent, pearly bump with visible blood vessels
- Scaly, crusty, or rough patches of skin
- Elevated, wart-like growth on the skin
- Asymmetric moles or growths on skin
- Moles with irregular, jagged, or poorly defined borders
- Moles or growths with varied colors or shades of brown, black, blue, red, or white
- Moles or growths that change in size, shape, color, or elevation
Foods to eat to manage skin cancer
Here are some of the top foods to eat to alleviate symptoms of skin cancer:
1. Fruits like strawberries and vegetables like kale
Berries, like strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries; citrus fruits, like oranges, lemons, and grapefruits; dark leafy greens, like spinach, kale, and collard greens; and root vegetables, like carrots and sweet potatoes, are powerhouses of nutrients. Having essential antioxidants such as vitamins A, C, and E, these food items can help protect the skin from UV radiation, repair damaged DNA, reduce inflammation, and support the body’s natural defense mechanisms against skin cancer.
2. Fatty fish like salmon
Omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish like salmon have potent anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce the risk of skin cancer and alleviate symptoms. These healthy fats can also support the body’s immune system and promote the healing of damaged skin cells. One can also find high levels of omega-3 fatty acids in flaxseeds and walnuts.
3. Green tea
Green tea contains polyphenols, which have shown to possess anti-cancer properties. It can help prevent the growth of skin cancer cells and reduce inflammation. Drinking green tea regularly may aid in the management of skin cancer symptoms.
Turmeric is a spice known for its potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, primarily due to its active compound, curcumin. Curcumin may alleviate symptoms by inhibiting the growth of cancer cells and reducing inflammation. One can use a powdered form of this spice in curries, soups, or turmeric tea.
5. Cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower
Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts contain sulfur compounds known for their detoxifying properties. They can help the body eliminate harmful toxins that may contribute to the development of skin cancer. Additionally, these vegetables provide vitamins and minerals that support overall skin health.
Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that gives them their red color. Lycopene may protect the skin from UV damage and reduce the risk of skin cancer. Cooking tomatoes can enhance lycopene absorption, so one can consider incorporating tomato-based sauces, soups, and stews into one’s meals.
7. Nuts like almonds
Nuts and seeds, such as almonds, sunflower seeds, and flaxseeds, are excellent sources of vitamin E and selenium, which can help protect the skin from damage and reduce inflammation. These nutrients may support the body’s natural defense mechanisms against skin cancer.