5-Jun-15 6:00 AM  CST

Australian Study Suggest Vitamin Supplement May Reduce Risk of Skin Cancer

American Cancer Society statistics state that there are 5 million cases of skin cancer diagnosed each year, making it the most prevalent form of cancer in the United States. At a cost of nearly 5 billion dollars each year skin cancer’s monetary presence is overwhelming, but the toll it takes on human lives cannot be adequately stated.

Skin cancer, as devastating as it can be, is one of the slowest growing forms of cancers. There are three major types of skin cancer basel cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Most skin cancers are either basel cell or squamous cell. The “good” news about these types of skin cancers is that although they are malignant it is very unlikely that the malignance will spread to other areas of the body. Melanoma, on the other hand, is less common than either basel cell or squamous cell, but is far more dangerous. Melanoma is extremely aggressive and can spread rapidly throughout the body if not diagnosed and treated in a timely manner. According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 73,000 of the 5 million cases of skin cancer each year are found to be melanoma.

Skin cancer, as is the case with most cancers, can be exhaustive to treat both monetarily and clinically. However, a new study coming out of Australia is showing promise for the proactive prevention of skin cancer. Nicotinamide is a form of vitamin B3. Vitamin B3 is found naturally in the food we eat such as, fish, milk, green vegetables, and cereal grains.

The Australian study involved 400 participants who were considered to be high risk due to their medical history and because they had a history of at least 2 non-melanoma skin cancers within 5 years of the study. Most of participants were men and the median age of the participants was 66. Many of the participants also had chronic health conditions such as arthritis, hypertension, or heart and lung disease. During the study, which was conducted over a period of 1 year, half of the participants were given a placebo and half were given vitamin B3. Each group was told to take the medication twice daily. Dermatologist examined participants every three months to determine if any new skin cancers had grown.

At the end of the year the skin cancer rates in those who had taken nicotinamide were down by 23% compared to the participants who had been taking the placebo. Additionally, nicotinamide seemed to decrease the build up of dry scaly patches of skin that often times lead to skin cancers. At a one year follow up most of the benefits that had been seen with vitamin B3 diminished, simply because participant were no longer taking the supplement.

Although further study needs to be conducted in order to conclusively determine the value of nicotinamide in the prevention of non-melanoma skin cancers, the current statistics and study seem to be largely positive, offering a hopeful promise in the prevention of non-melanoma skin cancers.


Thompson, D., (2015), Supplement Linked to Reduction in Skin Cancer Risk, WebMD, http://www.webmd.com/melanoma-skin-cancer/news/20150513/vitamin-supplement-linked-to-reduction-in-skin-cancer-risk?page=2

For additional information on this article, please contact:
Sandra Andrews
(717) 360-1159
Source: Sandy Andrews  

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