Skin cancer affects five million people every single year, and every single year more people are diagnosed with skin cancer than prostate, colon, breast and lung cancer combined. Those statistics alone are startling, but what’s even worse is that one person dies of melanoma every single hour and it is one of the cancers that shows a steady increase every single year.

While none of us can completely avoid our cancer risks, we certainly can lead lifestyles that ensure we’re doing as much as possible to minimize our risks. Avoiding red meat and conventional animal products has been on the forefront of most cancer prevention protocols, along with quitting smoking and leading healthier lifestyles. However, when it comes to skin cancer, we often only hear about staying out of the sun, tanning beds, avoiding smoke exposure, and being sure to wear our SPF if we do get some rays during the day. These are very important and make a dramatic difference in protecting the body against toxins and harmful UV rays linked to cancer.


But what about our diets? Could we possibly eat more foods that strengthen the body (and skin’s) defenses at developing cancer?

The answer is yes.

The Skin Cancer Foundation shares that while food can not full prevent cancer, they can decrease risks dramatically at the way they protect the body from certain UV rays which account for 86 percent of melanoma cases. While eating the wrong foods do not cause skin cancer, eating the right foods are important for overall cancer prevention, including that of the skin. The University of Maryland has also performed research that concludes certain nutrients found in many plant-based foods help the body fight free radicals that destroy and cause the mutation of abnormal cells (also known as cancer).

What Are the Best Nutrients to Aid in Cancer Prevention?

The top nutrients that assist with skin health, immunity, and that strengthen the body’s defenses include:


  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • B vitamins
  • antioxidants such as lycopene, beta-carotene, anthocyanins, curcumin, quercetin, and polyphenols
  • healthy fats from plant-based sources that protect skin layers
  • zinc
  • Vitamin E

It’s so easy to load your plate up with these nutrients each and every day because all whole, plant-based foods are packed with such dense nutrition. If you really want to optimize your intake, buy organic to avoid pesticides, chemicals and toxins that could actually lead to cancer.

Nutrient-Dense Foods for Skin Cancer Prevention:


Orange Foods:

Pumpkin, Carrots, Winter Squash, Sweet Potatoes, Peppers


These foods are all great sources of beta-carotene, vitamin C, and many have B vitamins. They are fantastic for promoting clear skin and fighting aging due to the way the act as anti-bacterial foods and inflammatory-fighting foods. Beta-carotene and vitamin C also ward off free radicals to further the benefits.

Green Foods:

Green Beans, Greens, Peppers, Herbs, Broccoli, Seaweed


Rich in antioxidants and detoxifying nutrients, these foods all contain fiber and chlorophyll (which both act as entire body purifiers and protectors), antioxidants, amino acids, folate (that converts to folic acid), vitamin A, and vitamin C.


Dark Red Foods:

Cherries, Red Wine, Raspberries, Red Grapes, Peppers, Apples, Cranberries, Tomatoes


These delicious foods are fantastic sources of antioxidants; tomatoes contain lycopene, apples contain quercetin, grapes, raspberries, cranberries and wine contain resveratrol and anthocynanins, and cherries are a good source of apigenen, a flavonoid that is a form of an antioxidant. These are also great sources of vitamin C and fiber. Goji berries are also a good source of most all these nutrients and are one of the highest sources of vitamin A and overall antioxidants known of all fruits.

Blue and Purple Foods: 

Blueberries, Olives, Blackberries, Eggplant, Acai, Maqui berries


All dark blue and purple foods are all high in disease-fighting properties. Many of these contain vitamin C, and all contain the antioxidant group known as anthocyanins, which promote healthy arteries and skin. They are also high in cancer-fighting properties, with many of them being great for a variety of types of cancer prevention.


White Foods:

Onions, Garlic, and Turnips


Turnips and onions are both very high in vitamin C and all three of these are potent cancer-fighting foods. They act as detoxifiers for the body and feed good bacteria in the digestive system to further fight disease and harmful bacteria that can lead to many health issues. Onions are also high in quercetin and garlic is high in detoxifying nutrients linked to most all types of cancer prevention.

Other Nutrient-Dense Foods to Include:


Turmeric is one of the leading sources of curcumin, a top anti-inflammatory nutrient. Brazil nuts are a great source of selenium linked to cancer prevention, walnuts are high in vitamin E and healthy fats, and avocados are a great source of vitamin E, chlorophyll, and B vitamins. Almonds, oats, and quinoa are all good sources of zinc, and raw is high in flavonoids, zinc, vitamin C, iron, and resveratrol. And seeds such as pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and tahini are all good sources of zinc, iron and B vitamins.

How to Get The Most Benefits:

The best way to use these foods to increase your chances at avoiding skin cancer along with being sun smart and a non-smoker, is to fill your diet with these foods on a regular basis and eliminate unhealthy foods rich in sugar, conventional animal products (especially red meat), animal-based saturated fats, and a diet high in fast, junk and processed foods.

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Lead image source: Kylie/Flickr