Scientists Say There’s a Link Between Drinking Orange Juice and Getting Skin Cancer

Sorry, Florida.
Sorry, Florida. Photo: Sass Achim/Corbis

Yikes: Researchers at Brown and Harvard have discovered that eating citrus may raise a person’s risk of developing melanoma. Their study — a huge one that includes over 100,000 Americans over 26 years, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology — found that people who had a serving and a half of citrus each day were 36 percent more likely to get melanoma than people who consumed just two servings per week. (A serving was defined as an orange, half a grapefruit, or six ounces of juice.)

This could be because citrus contains lots of furocoumarins, a group of photo-active substances that become more toxic when they’re exposed to the sun’s UV rays. They warn people who drink orange juice every morning, or have some sort of serious daily grapefruit regimen, to “avoid prolonged sun exposure.”

While the American Society of Clinical Oncology calls these preliminary findings “intriguing,” the group adds, thankfully, that it’s a bit premature to start cutting citrus out of diets. Plus, other experts say there’s no way of knowing exactly how much higher the risk of cancer is, if any, since the study specifically looked at orange juice but not whole oranges, and at whole grapefruits, but not grapefruit juice. Still, it’s probably time to cut back on the mimosas at brunch, anyway, right?


Scientists Say There’s a Link Between Drinking Orange Juice and Getting