A cheap and easily available vitamin supplement appears to reduce a person’s risk of skin cancer, new research contends.
A fomr of vitamin B3 called nicotinamide is linked to a reduction of non-melanoma skin cancers by 23% when taken twice daily, according to Australian researchers.
“It’s safe, it’s almost obscenely inexpensive, and it’s already widely commercially available,” said author Dr. Diona Damian, a professor of dermatology at the University of Sydney.
Nicotinamide costs less than $10 for a month’s supply and is available a pharmacies and health food stores, she said.
However, more study is needed before researchers can say whether everyone would benefit from the supplement. “It’s not something we’d recommend at this stage for the general population,” Damian said.
The study is slated for presentation May 30 at the upcoming annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Funding for this study was provided by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia.
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, with about 5 million cases treated every year at a cost of about $4.8 billion, Damian said.
Ultraviolet rays from the sun cause most skin cancers by damaging the DNA of skin cells, Damian said.
The clinical trial involved nearly 400 high-risk patients who’d had a least two non-melanoma skin cancers during the previous five years. Their average age was 66 and two-thirds were men. Many also had chronic health conditions, such as arthritis, high blood pressure, or heart or lung disease, according to the researchers.
Half of the group took nicotinamide twice daily for a year. The other half took a placebo. Dermatologists checked for skin cancer every three months.
The people taking nicotinamide showed immediate benefits. “This reduction in skin cancers seemed to start as early as the first three-month visit,” Damian said.
The vitamin supplement also appeared to reduce the numbers of thick, scaly patches of skin (keratosis) that can become cancer. Those patches were reduced in the nicotinamide group by 11% at three months, and 20% at nine months of treatment.
This is rare research as there is no prospect for a new drug coming from this line of inquiry. Please note that it was sponsored by the Australian health council, not a drug company. There are limitless applications for vitamins and herbs that are not tested because there is little or no profit in using a natural product to treat disease.
Nicotinamide can also lower blood pressure and should not be taken by patients with low blood pressure or congestive heart failure. I use it frequently in the treatment of atrial fibrillation (AF), in combination with riboflavin (vitamin B2). It is also commonly used for many heart conditions.
The Bottom Line:
If you have a history of skin cancer, please consult with your physician before adding nicotinamide to your daily supplements. I have been taking it for several months for other reasons, but I have noted a marked improvement in my keratosis. I’ll keep you informed.
Source: May 13, 2015 National Institutes of Health