High Citrus Consumption May Increase Melanoma Risk

Sarfaroj Khan 


April 05, 2021


  • High citrus consumption was associated with a significantly increased risk of melanoma.

  • Consumption of oranges and orange juice showed an independent association with the risk of melanoma.

Why this matters

  • Findings support previous evidence of the photosensitivity and photocarcinogenicity of psoralens and support the hypothesis that high consumption of psoralen-rich foods may increase the risk of melanoma.

Study design

  • This study included 198,964 participants (1592 melanoma cases; 197,372 control participants) from the UK Biobank cohort.

  • Data on citrus consumption were collected via 5 rounds of 24-hour recall questionnaires.

  • Funding: National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and others.

Key results

  • After adjustment for potential confounders, the risk of melanoma was significantly higher among participants in the highest category of total citrus consumption (>2 servings/day) vs those with no consumption (adjusted OR [aOR], 1.63; 95% CI, 1.24-2.12; Ptrend=.0051).

  • For individual citrus products, aORs (95% CIs) were 1.79 (1.07-2.78; Ptrend=.043) and 1.54 (1.10-2.10; Ptrend=.021) for the highest consumption of oranges and orange juice (>1 serving/day), respectively.

  • The risk of melanoma was even greater in fair/very fair-skinned participants with high citrus consumption (aOR, 1.75; 95% CI, 1.31-2.29).

  • A decreased risk of melanoma was observed in olive-skinned participants consuming half a serving of citrus per day (aOR, 0.48; 95% CI, 0.23-0.89).


  • Dietary data were self-reported, likely resulting in nondifferential misclassification.


Marley AR, Li M, Champion VL, Song Y, Han J, Li X. The Association between Citrus Consumption and Melanoma Risk in the UK Biobank. Br J Dermatol. 2021 Mar 30 [Epub ahead of print]. doi: 10.1111/bjd.19896. PMID: 33782946.  View abstract 

This clinical summary originally appeared on Univadis, part of the Medscape Professional Network.


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