Citrus consumption has been linked to increased risk of malignant melanoma in two cohorts of women and men, however further research is needed to corroborate these findings, according to an article published online ahead of print in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Researchers led by Shaowei Wu, PhD, of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School looked at 63,810 women from the Nurses’ Health Study (1984 to 2010) as well as 41,622 men in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study (1986 to 2010).

“Citrus products are widely consumed foods that are rich in psoralens and furocoumarins, a group of naturally occurring chemicals with potential photocarcinogenic properties,” they noted.

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Dietary information was assessed every 2 to 4 years during follow-up, and 1,840 incident melanomas were documented.

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The researchers found that, upon adjusting for other risk factors, multivariable hazard ratios for melanoma were higher among patients who consumed more citrus products.

Independent of other lifestyle and dietary factors, grapefruit showed the most apparent association with melanoma risk when comparing the extreme consumption categories.


  1. Wu S, Han J, Feskanich D, et al. Citrus consumption and risk of cutaneous malignant melanoma. J Clin Oncol. June 29, 2015. [epub ahead of print]. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2014.57.4111.