A 2015 study from Australia suggests that an inexpensive supplement, widely available over the counter, may have protective effects against skin cancers that result from UV radiation exposure.
In a phase 3, double-blind, randomized controlled trial, researchers divided more than 300 participants who had experienced at least two non-melanoma skin cancers in the previous five years into two groups. One group received 500 mg nicotinamide, a form of Vitamin B3, twice daily for twelve months. The other group received a placebo. All participants were then evaluated by dermatologists every three months for a total span of eighteen months.
Researchers compared the number of new non-melanoma skin cancers that occurred in each group over the twelve-month intervention period. This included both basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas. In addition, they compared the number of pre-cancerous actinic keratoses that occurred during the study period, the occurrence of non-melanoma skin cancers in the six months following the intervention as well as the general safety of nicotinamide.
After twelve months, the rate of new non-melanoma skin cancer was 23% lower in the nicotinamide group compared to the control group. The number of new actinic keratoses was also lower at each three-month interval and at the end of the twelve-month intervention. No significant benefit was noted after the nicotinamide was discontinued. Nicotinamide was determined to be generally safe for this population.
In presenting this study, the researchers were careful to note that the findings only apply to nicotinamide and not other forms of Vitamin B3, such as niacin. They also urge that these findings apply to patients classified as high risk for skin cancer and don’t necessarily apply to the broader population. They also note that the continuous use of the supplement is indicated by the study results.
As always, this is not a substitute for medical advice. Always consult your healthcare provider for medical guidance.