The notion that diet may influence the risk of developing skin cancer seems not to hold up under investigation, Australian researchers report.
According to their study in the journal BMC Cancer, high levels of dietary fat do not increase —and may decrease — the risk of skin cancer.
“While our study is intriguing, and is in agreement with some other very large studies, we could not suggest that the public’s health would be enhanced by consuming more fat,” Dr. Robert H. Granger from the Menzies Research Institute, Hobart, told Reuters Health.
“Even if every study consistently showed that higher levels of fat intake were protective of skin cancer, there are enough negative health outcomes associated with high fat intake which far offset any supposed advantages,” he added.
Granger and his colleagues investigated, for the first time, the association between dietary fat and the risk of skin cancer in a population-based study of 652 patients with skin cancer and 471 “controls” who did not.
Participants completed a questionnaire to assess fat intake. Upon analysis of the data, the researchers found that higher fat intake and higher waist-to-hip ratios were associated with a reduced risk of skin cancers.
“Our results took us by surprise, as our working hypotheses related to the findings from the only dietary intervention study which showed that decreased fat consumption led to a slight decreased risk of skin cancer,” Granger said. “We cannot think of a sensible mechanism by which increased fat could be protective.”