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Health Tips 4 things you'd never guess could cause skin cancer—but totally can

The more strains of HPV a person carried, the more likely they were to develop squamous cell cancers in their lifetime.

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skin cancer causes surprising

(Photograph by Getty Images)

Beyond fair skin, light hair, and a proclivity for lobster-red sunburns, new research is pinpointing less obvious risks of developing skin cancer. Check this list and be extra diligent with your SPF.


Sorry to be a buzzkill, but according to a study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, each glass of white wine per day was associated with a 13 percent increased risk of melanoma. The researchers hypothesize it's due to the DNA-damaging enzyme acetaldehyde, which is found in alcoholic beverages but at higher levels in white wine. Easy solution: Opt for red instead, which researchers think has less of an association with melanoma risk, thanks to its higher level of antioxidants.


A study published in the British Medical Journal uncovered a connection between strains of HPV and the prevalence of squamous cell carcinomas, a nonmelanoma type of skin cancer. The more strains of HPV a person carried, the more likely they were to develop squamous cell cancers in their lifetime. If you're not sure if you have HPV, get tested.

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New research in Nature Communications shows just carrying the gene that gives you red hair—meaning the color runs in your family, but you are not ginger yourself—leads to 42 percent more sun-associated genetic mutations compared with people who did not carry the gene. "It also raises the possibility that we can screen people for this gene so they can be more aware," says Ellen Marmur, M.D., a dermatologist and also an associate clinical professor of genomics and genetic science at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.


Consuming a cup serving of grapefruit or orange juice more than 1.6 times daily was found to up melanoma risk by 36 percent. Researchers, who published their findings in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, speculate it's because these fruits are rich in psoralen and furocoumarin compounds, which are thought to make skin more photosensitive.

This article originally appeared in the May 2017 issue of Women's Health. For more great advice, pick up a copy of the issue on newsstands now!

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