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    Skin Blog
    Western Skin Institute Skin Blog is a platform to keep you, the patient updated on latest news about the skin and useful information on looking after your skin. All information are written by dermatologists for the lay public. We hope you’ll find the information useful and that you will share it with all your friends and family.
    Skin blog 4 – November 2015 Can a Vitamin prevent skin cancer?


    Non-melanoma skin cancers, such as basal-cell carcinoma and squamous-cell carcinoma, are common cancers that are caused principally by ultraviolet (UV) radiation.

    In a recent study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Nicotinamide (vitamin B3*) has been shown to have protective effects against damage caused by UV radiation and to reduce the rate of actinic keratosis (sun damage).

    *Vitamin B3 is present in most multi-vitamin supplements but its concentration is too low to have any real effect.

    The investigators studied 386 participants who had had at least two non-melanoma skin cancers in the previous 5 years. They were randomly allocated to receive 500 mg of nicotinamide (Vitamin B3) twice daily or placebo for 12 months. Participants were evaluated by dermatologists at 3-month intervals for 18 months.

    At 12 months, the rate of new non-melanoma skin cancers was lower by 23% along with a reduction in 11% of actinic keratosis (sun damage).


    What does this mean for me?

    The results from the study are promising. It must be borne in mind that this is one of the first study of its kind, follow up is relatively short (18 months) and only 386 participants was studied. In spite of these limitations, this study is exciting.

    Whilst a definite cure or prevention of 100% of skin cancer is not yet available, there is promise that for something as simple as taking Vitamin B3 at doses recommended by the study (500mg – 1000mg) may be useful.



    Andrew C. Chen, M.B., B.S., Andrew J. Martin, Ph.D., Bonita Choy, M.Med., Pablo Fernández-Peñas, Ph.D., Robyn A. Dalziell, Ph.D., Catriona A. McKenzie, M.B., B.S., Richard A. Scolyer, M.D., Haryana M. Dhillon, Ph.D., Janette L. Vardy, M.D., Anne Kricker, Ph.D., Gayathri St. George, M.Sc.Med., Niranthari Chinniah, M.B., B.S., Gary M. Halliday, D.Sc., and Diona L. Damian, Ph.D. A Phase 3 Randomized Trial of Nicotinamide for Skin-Cancer Chemoprevention N Engl J Med 2015; 373:1618-1626

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