Association between Citrus Consumption and Melanoma Risk in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study

Nutr Cancer. 2021;73(9):1613-1620. doi: 10.1080/01635581.2020.1803933. Epub 2020 Aug 13.


It has been hypothesized that consumption of citrus, a group of foods particularly rich in a class of photoactive compounds known as furocoumarins, may increase the risk of malignant melanoma. However, this hypothesis has not been rigorously studied in a general sample of US men and women. This study examined the relationship between citrus intake and melanoma risk in subjects of the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study. Among 388,467 adults, 3,894 melanoma cases were identified during a median follow-up of 15.5 years. After adjustment for relevant potential confounders, total citrus consumption was not significantly associated with melanoma risk in this cohort. Among those with higher estimated exposure to ultraviolet radiation, and among those aged 60+ years at baseline, there were significant trends toward increased melanoma risk associated with whole citrus fruit consumption (P trends = 0.01 and 0.02, respectively), but the hazard ratios of the top consumers (2+ cups per week) vs. nonconsumers were nonsignificant. Further research is needed to explore associations of citrus with melanoma risk among older adults and those with high sun exposure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Citrus*
  • Diet
  • Humans
  • Melanoma* / epidemiology
  • Melanoma* / etiology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Ultraviolet Rays / adverse effects