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New research findings: Spinach may help reduce skin cancer risk

Researchers report that healthier eating habits may help protect against skin cancer, by including more spinach and other green leafy vegetables in the diet.

This announcement follows a recent discovery by the Queensland Institute of Medical Research (QIMR) that consumption of green leafy vegetables such as spinach and silverbeet is linked with a reduction in the risk of skin cancer, particularly among those with a previous history of the disease.

QIMR’s Dr Jolieke van der Pols says green leafy vegetables contain a variety of vitamins, minerals and other bioactive substances that are known to have anti-cancer properties.

“Green leafy vegetables are good sources of folic acid, vitamins A, C and E, the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, and other components which may help boost the skin’s natural defence against damage caused by UV rays,” Dr van der Pols said.

“This new evidence suggests that an increase in consumption of these foods may help to reduce the risk of skin cancer recurring among those with a previous history by up to 55%.”

These findings provide a timely reminder that skin cancer can be prevented, with Suncorp and QIMR launching a joint skin cancer awareness campaign throughout Queensland this summer.

Aimed at reducing the number of people affected by skin cancer, the campaign will run throughout Queensland on television, radio, cinema, in print and on outdoor bus shelters and billboards until February 2007.

Suncorp CEO, Mr John Mulcahy, said this research provides evidence that besides the well-known sun-protection methods, eating green leafy vegetables may help to prevent skin cancer in people with a history of the disease.

“We believe that community awareness has a big role to play in the prevention of skin cancer,” Mr Mulcahy said.

“The joint Suncorp and QIMR advertising campaign being launched across Queensland will play an important role in raising awareness about the dangers of UV exposure and how people can prevent the disease.”

While consuming more green leafy vegetables may help protect against skin cancer, QIMR maintains that wearing protective clothing, applying sunscreen daily and avoiding UV exposure is still the best way to avoid skin cancer.