Phillip Minton M.D.

Chocolate: the sweetest skin cancer preventive

In skin cancer on May 29, 2011 at 9:12 pm

Dr. Manny Alvarez, in his recent article for Fox News, recommends consuming plenty of dietary antioxidants to help prevent skin cancer. Indeed the skin is our largest “organ” and has the highest incidence of cancer of any organ. Dr. Alvarez also relates that even though malignant melanoma accounts for only 4% of all skin cancers, it causes the most deaths. He lists fruits and vegetables as being the foods best suited to stave-off skin cancer during the summer months when our sun exposure is greatest. But what about chocolate? Does it have a role as a skin cancer preventive?

Following the rationale presented by Dr. Alvarez that foods rich in natural antioxidants are beneficial as skin cancer preventives, we must consider chocolate, since it is an extremely rich source of antioxidants. As a matter of fact, chocolate, the fruit of the Theobroma tree, is more powerful as an antioxidant than are any of the foods we commonly consume thinking they are providing us with a strong antioxidant blast (see Chocolate, Healthfood of the Gods, page 93). Scientists measure the antioxidant capability of foods by analyzing the ORAC value of each food. ORAC means oxygen radical absorption capacity. It is a measure of how many oxidative free radicals can be “mopped up” and quenched by a given mass of a certain type of food. We often think that fruits and vegetables such as blueberries, cherries, broccoli, prunes and pomegranate are the richest source of dietary antioxidants. They are indeed powerful antioxidant foods, but compared to chocolate, they are light-weights in fighting oxidative free radicals. Dark chocolate has more than four times the ORAC value of the same mass of pomegranate, five times as much as blueberries, and ten times as much as broccoli. As a matter of fact, even the famed anti-cancer product Noni juice has an ORAC value of only 1506 compared to 13,120 for the same mass of dark chocolate. Chocolate, in terms of antioxidant power, is truly the sweetest skin cancer preventive!

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