In a recent study, researchers identified a link between high consumption of citrus items -- including orange juice and grapefruit -- and the risk of melanoma. During the study, the researchers studied the dietary habits of more than 100,000 people in the U.S. A total of 1,840 participants developed melanoma.

The researchers used the data from two previous studies before identifying the potential link between the most common form of cancer and the intake of citrus items. However, the study did not conclude whether consumption of citrus fruits had led to the occurrence of skin cancer in people.

During the study, the researchers found that subjects who consumed citrus servings 1.6 times in a day were at a 36 percent greater risk of developing cancer than the ones who consumed the same serving twice in a day. For the research purpose, the team considered one serving as equivalent to 6 ounces of juice, one orange or half a grapefruit.

The results were independent of age and other lifestyle factors, including alcohol and smoking habits.

The researchers suspect that the occurrence of a substance called furocoumarins in the citrus fruits might be behind the increased risk of melanoma. Furocoumarins are produced by plants as a defense. Toxicity increases in the presence of sunlight, thus, increasing the sensitivity of the skin toward sunlight.

"Those who consume a lot of grapefruit and/or orange juice should be particularly careful to avoid prolonged sun exposure," said lead researcher and study author Shaowei Wu in a statement. However, the research team suggested that people not change their food consumption habits until further research is conducted, since fruits are essential for health.

The complete study has been published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.