Daily Niacin Vitamins Help Cut Skin Cancer Risk

There's more to skincare and melanoma prevention than lathering on the SPF or staying out of the sun.

There’s more to skincare and melanoma prevention than lathering on the SPF or staying out of the sun.

Taking niacin vitamins (nicotinamide or vitamin B3) daily would tremendously help people lower their recurrent risk for skin cancer, according to a study recently published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

The protective characteristics of B3 aren’t anything new — previous research has supported this claim.

However, researchers from Australia recently studied 386 patients who had already been diagnosed with non-melanoma skin cancers at least twice, as their prior diagnosis with squamous cell carcinomas classified them as high risk for repeated cancerous spots.

The study results indicated that administered as a twice-daily pill for a 12-month term, niacin vitamins did reduce the incidence of new non-melanoma skin cancers by 23% compared with placebo. The vitamins also decreased the incidence of pre-cancerous sunspots by approximately 15%.

Delphine Lee, MD, PhD, dermatologist and director of translational immunology, John Wayne Cancer Institute, Santa Monica, CA, remarked, “This is such a simple solution and this study should change what all doctors do when it comes to preventing skin cancer in high-risk patients.”

Diona Damian, MD, professor of dermatology, University of Sydney and Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, concluded in a news release, “This is the first clear evidence that we can reduce skin cancers using a simple vitamin, together with sensible sun protection. We hope that these findings can be immediately translated into clinical practice. However, people at high risk of skin cancer still need to practice safe behavior, use sunscreens, and have regular check-ups with their doctors.”