An inexpensive supplement, vitamin B3 or nicotinamide, has been found to decrease the risk of recurrent non-melanoma skin cancer by 23 percent when taken twice a day in an Australian study .
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer. “About 3.5 million cases of basal and squamous cell skin cancer are diagnosed in this country each year. Melanoma, a more dangerous type of skin cancer, will account for more than 73,000 cases of skin cancer in 2015", according to American Cancer Society.
Researchers tested approximately 400 patients who had at least two non-melanoma skin cancers over the previous five years so were considered high risk for a recurrence. They ranged in age from 30 to 90, were mostly male and had a variety on other ongoing health conditions, such as heart disease or chronic lung disease.
People in Australia suffer from skin cancer at four times the rate of other cancers. It is thought to affect over half their population, stated Medscape.
The study took place at two treatment centers in Sydney, Australia, between 2011 and 2014.
Patients who took 500 mg of nicotinamide twice a day for one year showed a 23 percent reduction in new diagnosed non-melanoma skin cancer, as compared to a placebo group.
The breakdown in type of skin cancer reduction was: 20 percent of basal cell carcinoma, 30 percent of squamous cell and 13 percent of actinic keratosis, reported Medscape. Actinic keratosis is considered a pre-cancerous skin lesion.
"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," said Diona Damian, a professor of dermatology at the University of Sydney in a NBC news report.
Researchers hypothesize that nicotinamide works by boosting DNA repair in skin cells damaged by the sun and blocking the immunosuppressive effect of UV light.
There were only minimal side effects from taking nicotinamide in the study participants.