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Foods That Fight Skin Cancer

7 min read

By Patty Weasler, RN

Medical professionals and researchers are learning more about skin cancer every day. Melanoma, the most common form of skin cancer, was diagnosed in over 82,000 people in the United States in 2016 according to the CDC. That makes it the 5th most common type of cancer.

There is no magical cure for skin cancer. Food alone will not stop its growth but it can support your immune system and help your body do what it was meant to do — be healthy. There are so many tasty, healthy foods that can fight skin cancer, including these 12…

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Blueberries are a tasty summer fruit that boasts multiple health benefits. According to the American Institute of Cancer Research, “blueberries contain many phytochemicals and nutrients which show potential anti-cancer effects in laboratory studies.” Their powerful antioxidants counteract free radicals that can damage the skin. Blueberries are also full of vitamin C, which also stops free radical damage.

You can eat them fresh, mixed in granola, or blended in a smoothie. They are a delicious, portable treat that can be used in so many different ways to help fight skin cancer. Whichever way you choose to take these sweet berries down is up to you.


Sweet and versatile, strawberries are a popular fruit that isn’t just delicious, they also contain high amounts of vitamin C. The sun’s ultraviolet rays cause free radical damage to our skin. This can cause skin cancer. But thankfully, vitamin C can neutralize free radicals. A study out of Germany, “found that people who got 180-mg per day of this nutrient…improved their skin’s free-radical scavenging activity by 37-percent” reports Eating Well.

Vitamin C is just one of the many different types of antioxidants. These nutrients block some of the damage caused by free radicals. Since your body cannot store or make vitamin C, you need to make sure you eat plenty of this nutrient every day. Cooking foods with vitamin C can reduce the vitamin C content in the food. So it’s best to eat your strawberries fresh, just as nature intended!

Sweet Potatoes

Fruits and vegetables are important to your diet for so many reasons. The multitude of nutrients found in them is almost overwhelming. Sweet potatoes are high in vitamin A. This is another antioxidant that can help keep you safe from the sun. Eating Well reported a study that found that those people who had a high consumption of vitamin A reduced their skin cancer risk by 17-percent. That’s reason enough to incorporate sweet potatoes into your diet.

Sweet potatoes can be eaten in so many different ways. If a baked sweet potato isn’t your style, try cutting them up into small chunks and roasting them on a pan in the oven. Or cut them into the shape of fries and bake, you don’t even have to take the skin off! Whichever way you choose to eat sweet potatoes your skin and body will thank you for the extra vitamin C love.

Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds contain omega-3 fatty acids, both popular and powerful, this essential polyunsaturated fat protects the skin’s integrity and has anti-inflammatory properties. Not only will omega-3 protect your skin from cancer it also protects your heart and plays an integral role in blood clotting.

Our bodies don’t produce omega-3 so it’s important to eat some each day to maintain healthy levels within our body. Nuts, flaxseed, and chia seeds are all foods that contain omega-3s. Recommended omega-3 intake levels for adult women is 1.1-g and adult men is 1.6-g reports the National Institute of Health.


It turns out everyone’s favorite morning pick-me-up can also help you fight skin cancer. According to a study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, there was a 20-percent lower risk of melanoma in people who drank four cups of coffee or more per day. So turn on that coffee maker and enjoy a cup of hot java or iced coffee to help deter melanoma from your body.

The thought behind coffee’s cancer fighting powers is likely the caffeine. The source noted that the benefit was only seen in people who drank caffeinated coffee, not decaf. Eating Well reports that caffeine can protect the “skin cells against sun damage and prevents them from turning cancerous.” Coffee lovers can rejoice knowing that their daily habit is also protecting their skin.

Green Tea

Green tea has gained popularity over the years and has become a staple in many households in the Western world. Some people drink green tea for its taste and aroma, where others enjoy it for its many health benefits. Green tea contains polyphenols, “a large group of plant chemicals that includes the catechins, are thought to be responsible for the health benefits that have traditionally been attributed to tea, especially green tea” reports the National Cancer Institute.

The most prolific catechin in green tea is EGCG. It’s likely that this catechin is what reduces the skin damage from sunlight and protects the body from decreasing collagen. If you’ve never drunk green tea, it can be sipped on hot or cold. Try different brands and mixes to find the one you like best and you’ll be on your way to fighting skin cancer.


Add tomatoes onto your list of foods to eat that fight skin cancer. According to Eating Well, a study determined “that people were less susceptible to sunburn after eating ¼-cup of tomato sauce daily for 12 weeks.” Tomato sauce typically also contains olive oil which helps the body absorb carotenoids. The source reports that carotenoids are what makes tomatoes red and protect them from the sun.

Tomatoes are a versatile food that you do a lot of different things with. Make it into a sauce, chop some up for a salad, mix with mozzarella and basil for a yummy caprese. With so many options there’s almost no excuse for not getting this skin cancer fighting food into your diet.


If you haven’t noticed yet, the fruits and vegetables with bright colors tend to be the most nutritious. Well, cauliflower doesn’t fit that mold. This cruciferous vegetable has antioxidants that fight against free radical damage. Healthline tells us that “cauliflower is also a naturally sun-protective food thanks to histidine. This alpha-amino acid stimulates the production of urocanic acid, which absorbs UV radiation.”

If you haven’t tried cauliflower since you were a kid when your parents made you, now is the time to try it again. Cauliflower has gained huge popularity. People are chopping it up and making cauliflower rice, molding it into cauliflower crust for pizza, and a lot more. The veggie doesn’t have much flavor so feel free to add spices to make it an exciting addition to your next dinner.

Red Wine

Red wine has been in the news for a long time as a popular cancer fighter. It’s likely because red wine is made with grapes that contain the antioxidant resveratrol. This protects your cells from damage that can lead to cancer. But it’s important to note, that drinking alcohol can actually lead to cancer. So experts from MD Anderson recommend only one glass of red wine per day for women and two glasses per day from men.

It’s also important to know where your wine came from. The source recommends drinking wine from cool, wet climates instead of dry, hot climates. As the cool, wet climates produce grapes with larger amounts of resveratrol than the dry, hot climates.


The spice turmeric gets its yellow pigment from curcumin. According to WebMD curcumin can help stop the growth of melanoma skin cancer cells. It’s likely due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that make curcumin such a great skin cancer fighter.

If you aren’t familiar with turmeric it’s a part of many curry spice mixes. There are so many different types of curry available that you might need to try a few different kinds to find the one that suits your taste buds.


Popeye was right when he ate spinach to keep himself healthy and strong. Spinach is a powerhouse food that contains beta-carotene, vitamin C, and fiber, says the American Institute for Cancer Research. Carotenoids, like those in spinach, slow down the growth of cancer. So it’s time to eat up your spinach and get strong and healthy like Popeye!

Though spinach is a nutritious, healthy vegetable there is no food that can cure skin cancer. All these foods help support your body’s natural immune system to give you the best chance at living a healthy long life.


Oysters are not the most attractive shellfish but they do contain a ton of the cancer fighting zinc. According to the National Institute for Health oysters contain 74-mg for every 3-ounces. To put it in perspective, the second highest zinc containing food is chuck roast beef. It contains 7-mg per every 3-ounces. Now you probably don’t need to eat oysters every day, especially with its high zinc levels. But it’s one way to get a lot of zinc and fast!

Zinc helps the body’s immune system to fight cancer and other conditions. The mineral activates antioxidants to fight free radical damage. On top of all that zinc is an essential nutrient for healthy growth, taste, and smell says the source. If oysters aren’t your thing don’t worry, there are plenty of foods that contain zinc to help you support your body to fight skin cancer.


Patty is a freelance health writer and nurse (BSN, CCRN). She has worked as a critical care nurse for over 10 years and loves educating people about their health. When she's not working, Patty enjoys any outdoor activity that she can do with her husband and three kids.

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