Brighten up your plate
According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, a plant- heavy diet rich in antioxidants can decrease your chances of all types of cancer, skin cancer included, by 20%. Foods that are especially rich in antioxidants and natural carotenoids (plant pigments with powerful antioxidant effects) include brightly coloured fruits and vegetables like grapes, oranges, broccoli, tomatoes, carrots and greens. Spices such as ginger and turmeric also provide antioxidants, as do wholegrains.
Aim for five to nine servings per day of colourful fruits and vegetables. (Tip: Starting at breakfast makes meeting the quota easier; 100% fruit or vegetable juices count.)
Put pomegranates to work
This fruit deserves an especially prominent place in your anticancer arsenal. A Norwegian study found that it (along with walnuts) contains more antioxidants than any other fruit or veggie.
What’s more, clinical studies have shown that pomegranate extract can even boost the effects of sunscreen. In one, led by dermatologist Howard Murad, volunteers who took pomegranate supplements raised the SPF level of their sunscreen by as much as 23%. Take one 15 mg pomegranate tablet daily; a standardised extract is best. And eat fresh pomegranates whenever you can, too.
Make tea-time a habit
Green, black and white teas all contain polyphenols, powerful antioxidants that help protect skin against the adverse effects of sun damage. Tea can be enjoyed as a beverage, taken as a supplement (generally in a dose of about 300 mg per day), or smoothed on as an ingredient in skin creams (look for it among the top three ingredients on the label).
Get help from plants
Pycnogenol, a standardised extract of the bark of the French maritime pine tree, is also a risk reducer. ‘Pycnogenol binds to collagen and elastin and protects them from degradation caused by free radicals,’ says Frank Schonlau, director of scientific communications for Horphag Research, the Geneva-based developer of the supplement. Another excellent remedy to include in a prevention programme is Ginkgo biloba. It contains a cocktail of ingredients, including genistein, which some research suggests may reduce UV-induced oxidative stress and inhibit DNA damage.