Melanoma: These Foods May Help Prevent Recurrence

by Carmen Roberts, M.S., R.D., L.D.N. Health Professional, Medical Reviewer

A Healthy Diet May Prevent Melanoma Recurrence

If you're a melanoma survivor, you know that early detection and treatment are critical, since the five-year-survival rate for people with melanoma that's detected early is about 98 percent, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. In addition to watching your sun exposure, you can decrease your risk of developing skin cancer or its recurrence through healthy eating. Here, the best foods to reach for.

Picking out leafy greens at market

Leafy green vegetables

Leafy greens are rich in the antioxidant vitamin C, which may protect cells from damage caused by free radicals, according to the Journal of Skin Cancer. Load your plate with leafy green vegetables such as spinach, kale, and collard greens. Another boon of veggies in this family: Broccoli, bell peppers, and Brussels sprouts are also excellent sources of vitamin C.

Buying fruit at outdoor market.

Red fruits and vegetables

Red fruits and vegetables are rich in lycopene, another antioxidant that may protect your skin against sun damage, according to a study in the British Journal of Dermatology. Tomatoes, tomato sauce, watermelon, pink grapefruit, apricots, blood oranges, and papaya are all good sources of lycopene.

Beautiful seafood sampler.

Fish and shellfish

Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and herring are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to decrease chronic inflammation and protect against skin cancer progression, according to The Journal of Clinical Medicine. In addition, shellfish are rich in zinc, which may help to replenish antioxidant levels in the body and restore immune function, according to research in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Bounty of nuts and seeds.

Nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds are also good sources of omega 3s. In addition, they contain vitamin E, another antioxidant that can help prevent damage by free radicals. Snack on walnuts, almonds, or sunflower seeds, or stir milled flaxseed or wheat germ into your yogurt or fruit smoothie for an added nutritional boost of vitamin E.

Legumes in various bowls.


Also rich in zinc: Legumes, which may enhance your body’s immune system and restore antioxidant levels. Add a sprinkle of beans, such as chickpeas, black beans, and edamame, to everything from salads or soups. Try bean dips such as hummus with raw vegetables for a delish-and-nutrish snack.

Plethora of orange fruits and vegetables.

Orange fruits and vegetables

Orange produce is rich in beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in your body. Reaching for orange fruits and veggies regularly may decrease the risk for some cancers. Carrots, sweet potatoes, apricots, cantaloupe, and squash are great sources of beta-carotene. While research on the effect of beta carotene and melanoma is inconclusive, some evidence supports the role of vitamin A in reducing the risk of developing melanoma, according to the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

Vitamin D foods

Vitamin D fortified foods

Research shows that adequate vitamin D intake is associated with a decreased risk of melanoma, and that people who are vitamin D deficient have a poorer outcome when diagnosed with melanoma. Include vitamin D fortified foods in your diet such as milk, yogurt, cereal, and juice. The [best dietary sources of vitamin D]( vitamin-d-rich-foods) include fish such as sardines, salmon, and tuna, as well as egg yolks and liver.

Picking out citrus fruit at the grocery.

Citrus fruits

Citrus fruits are good sources of vitamin C, which may offer some protection from cancer-causing free radicals. Snack on oranges, and add a slice of fresh lemon or lime to a glass of water for an added boost of vitamin C. Though not a citrus fruit, strawberries are rich in vitamic C, too. Time to pick up a pint!

Pouring cups of green tea


The polyphenols found in black and green tea have been linked to a variety of health benefits, including cancer prevention. Research shows that green tea, specifically, can actually inhibit the growth of melanoma cells. Try adding a cup of green tea (hot or iced) to your daily routine.

Carmen Roberts, M.S., R.D., L.D.N.
Meet Our Writer
Carmen Roberts, M.S., R.D., L.D.N.

Carmen is a Registered Dietitian. In addition to writing for HealthCentral, she has spent her career working at Johns Hopkins and is also an adjunct faculty instructor for Excelsior College. Carmen has over 20 years of experience in nutritional counseling, education, writing, and program management and is a certified specialist in adult weight management. She enjoys educating her students and clients about how nutrition affects the body and its role in overall health and wellness.