Looks like too much exposure to ultraviolet rays is not the only threat when preventing skin cancer. A novel study has reported a surprising link between the condition and fish consumption.

Research has found that eating fish could likely increase the likelihood of skin cancer. And it’s not just the mild form of the condition but also the aggressive form called melanoma.

Brown University and National Cancer Institute researchers monitored the eating habits of 491,367 American adults aged 50-71 for 15 years and evaluated their risk of developing skin cancer based on their fish consumption, Interesting Engineering reported.

They found that the participants who consumed about two servings of fish per week had a 22% risk of developing melanoma than those who consumed less. The same participants demonstrated a 28% higher risk of developing abnormal skin cells that could be precursors to cancer.

One of the authors, Eunyoung Cho, pointed out in a press release that melanoma is the fifth most common cancer in the US, adding that the “risk of developing melanoma over a lifetime is one in 38 for white people, one in 1,000 for Black people and one in 167 for Hispanic people.”

Cho noted that there had been similar scientific efforts aimed at identifying the link between fish intake and melanoma risk, but their results were mostly inconsistent. On the other hand, their findings showed promise, but further investigation is still needed.

“We speculate that our findings could possibly be attributed to contaminants in fish, such as polychlorinated biphenyls, dioxins, arsenic, and mercury,” Cho said. “However, we note that our study did not investigate the concentrations of these contaminants in participants’ bodies, and so further research is needed to confirm this relationship.”

It is also worth noting that the fish intake of the participants was only calculated at the beginning of the research. Their consumption might have drastically changed in the course of the study, considering that the scope was 15 years.

Another limitation was found in the lack of data on the risk factors for melanoma among the participants. Mole count, history of sunburn, sunlight exposure, and other behaviors might have given the findings more credibility.

Despite the shortcomings, the study was still lauded for taking the first step in understanding the link between skin cancer and fish intake. Further research could help establish the association between the two.