Melanoma and Dietary Lipids Study: A Deep Dive

Sunlight: It's something we often take for granted, but without it, life on this planet would not be possible. Yet, like many things that hold immense benefits, it also comes with its own set of risks.

Importance of Sunlight for Human Health

The Sun, that magnificent ball of fiery gas, has shaped life on Earth for billions of years. It bathes our planet with a wide spectrum of light, including ultraviolet, infrared, and visible light. And while artificial lighting has allowed us to extend our active hours into the night, nothing truly replaces the benefits of genuine sunlight.

"Real sunlight is essential for optimal human life," is a statement that many health experts and scientists stand by. To function at our best, humans require adequate levels of direct, outdoor sunlight. And here's a twist: without the interference of sunscreens. Yes, while sunscreens are vital in preventing overexposure, they can also prevent us from reaping some of the sun's essential benefits.

But this raises a perplexing question: Why would something so beneficial, so fundamental to our existence, also have the potential to harm us? The answer might be found in an old adage: the dose makes the poison. But beyond dosage, the context in which we expose ourselves to sunlight plays a pivotal role too.

The Paradox: Sunlight’s Benefits and Risks

Just like the much-discussed LDL cholesterol, which can be both good and bad depending on various factors, sunlight's effects on our body might be mediated by our overall metabolic health. Consider this: What if our dietary habits, particularly our intake of certain fatty acids, could influence how our skin responds to sunlight?

Enter Linoleic Acid.

Linoleic Acid: An Overlooked Factor

Linoleic Acid, an 18-carbon polyunsaturated fatty acid, is commonly found in several seed oils. These include:

  • Corn
  • Canola
  • Sunflower
  • Safflower
  • Soybean

Recent studies and discussions among health experts have highlighted potential concerns regarding the consumption of linoleic acid. Elevated levels of this fatty acid might be one of the primary drivers of chronic diseases today.

Moreover, there's a growing body of evidence to suggest that linoleic acid could be affecting the integrity and fragility of our cell membranes. In the context of sunlight exposure, this could predispose individuals to a higher risk of skin damage, and possibly skin cancers.

Melanoma and Linoleic Acid: The 1987 Study

Melanoma and Dietary Lipids

This brings us to a remarkable study conducted in 1987 in Sydney, Australia. In this research:

  • Subcutaneous adipose tissue samples were taken from 100 melanoma patients.
  • These samples were compared to those from 100 mass controls.
  • The primary objective was to analyze and compare the fatty acid profiles of these samples.
Fatty Acid Melanoma Patients Control Group
Linoleic Acid Elevated Levels Lower Levels

From this data, it was evident that melanoma patients had significantly elevated levels of linoleic acid in their subcutaneous adipose tissue compared to the control group. What was even more intriguing was that when these results were compared to similar groups from the mid-1970s, there was a notable increase in the linoleic acid levels over time.

Melanoma and Dietary Lipids Introduction

The Intriguing Hypothesis from 1974

Rewinding a bit further to 1974, an observation by Mackie added another layer to this mystery. Mackie noted five melanoma patients who all made a significant dietary change about 10 months before being diagnosed with melanoma.

Here's what they had in common:

  1. They had substantially reduced their intake of saturated fat.
  2. They had replaced saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats.

This observation led to a hypothesis: Could an increased intake of polyunsaturated fats, like linoleic acid, predispose individuals to the development of melanoma? It's a correlation that, while not proving causation, opens up a plethora of fascinating questions and possibilities.

The Limitations of the Study

However, it's crucial to approach these findings with caution. Correlation does not always equate to causation. While the observed relationship between dietary lipids and melanoma is intriguing, further research is needed to draw definitive conclusions.

What This Means for Current Research

The studies mentioned here might be several decades old, but they offer an invaluable perspective. There's a pressing need to revisit these old-school research methodologies. Modern studies often rely on measuring plasma levels of linoleic acid, but as the 1987 study showed, looking directly at subcutaneous adipose tissue levels can offer more accurate insights.


The delicate balance between the benefits and risks of sunlight exposure is shaped by numerous factors, with our dietary choices being a possible key player. While we cannot jump to conclusions based on the studies mentioned, they undoubtedly underscore the need for comprehensive, modern research in this area.

Remember: Always be informed about your dietary choices and sun exposure habits. Your skin's health might depend on it.

Call to Action

Have you noticed any changes in your skin health due to dietary changes? Share your thoughts and experiences in a message to us here. Let's continue this discussion and shed more light on the intricate relationship between our diet, the sun, and our health.



  • Linoleic Acid: An 18-carbon polyunsaturated fatty acid found in several seed oils.
  • Melanoma: A type of skin cancer.
  • Subcutaneous Adipose Tissue: The layer of fat cells beneath the skin.


  1. What are the primary sources of linoleic acid?
    • Seed oils like corn, canola, sunflower, safflower, and soybean are major sources.
  2. How can I protect my skin from the harmful effects of the sun?
    • Use sunscreen when exposed for prolonged periods, but also ensure you get adequate sun exposure for optimal health.