Skin cancer is one of the most commonly occurring cancers in the world. Non-melanoma skin cancer refers to a group of cancers that develop slowly in the upper layers of the skin. New research has revealed that a certain type of vitamin B3, known as nicotinamide, may help reduce the risk of non-melanoma skin cancers by 23%. The vitamin supplement was shown to enhance DNA repair and restore the skin's immunity.
Lead researcher Diona Damian, a professor of dermatology at the University of Sydney, said, "This is the first clear evidence that we can reduce skin cancers using a simple vitamin, together with sensible sun protection."
The study comprised of 386 patients who had been diagnosed with at least two skin cancers, such as basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, in the last five years. Half of the study group was randomly assigned to take 500 milligrams twice daily of nicotinamide, while the other half took a placebo. This treatment was well-tolerated in the patients, whose ages ranged from 30 to 91 years and who were considered high-risk due to their history of skin cancer.
It was seen that when patients stopped taking the supplements, their risk of getting skin cancer rose again about six months later, indicating that the benefit can only be gained if the supplements are taken consistently. Damian said, "This is ready to go straight into the clinic."
Researchers stressed that the study involved nicotinamide, and not nicotinic acid, another common form of vitamin B3 that has been associated with few side effects including flushing and low blood pressure. Damian even cautioned that the treatment was not tested as a remedy or prevention strategy for the general public, and that sunscreen is still necessary to protect against skin cancer.