You're probably very aware of the skin cancer melanoma. But it's not the most common skin cancer. The most common cancers of the skin are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Unlike melanoma, these cancers are caused principally by an overexposure to the ultraviolet rays in sunlight. But sunlight is just what triggers them to develop. There are other nutritional factors that are also in play. One of them is a common B-vitamin. And scientists have recently found an easy, safe, and simple way not only to use that vitamin to significantly decrease the chance of developing one of these cancers, but also to prevent the skin lesion that leads to them called actinic keratoses.
To do the experiment the researchers enlisted the help of 386 men and women who were at an especially high risk for developing these cancers. All of them had suffered at least two of the cancers in the previous five years. They split the group, and gave half of them 500 mg of the B-vitamin nicotinamide (or niacinamide) two times a day for 12 months. They gave the other half a placebo. Then they evaluated all of them at three-month intervals for 18 months. Here's what happened.
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At the end of 12 months, the rate of new basal cell skin cancers was lower by 20% in the niacinamide group compared to the placebo. The rate of new squamous-cell carcinomas was lower by 30%. And that's not all. The number of actinic keratoses was down by 20%. Actinic keratoses are those nasty looking scaly lesions that are so common on the face and hands.
And what about side effects? The authors concluded, "Oral nicotinamide was safe and effective in reducing the rates of new nonmelanoma skin cancers and actinic keratoses in high-risk patients." But here's the thing. After the patients stopped using the niacinamide their risk increased back to baseline. So, it's important to continue to take the vitamin.
If it works that well in people who have a strong propensity for these cancers, imagine how effective it would be in everyone else. We hear so much about how effective the regular use of sunscreen is to prevent these cancers. But the reality is that according to this study, niacinamide is just as effective as sunscreen. And the combination is sure to be the most effective. In an upcoming issue, I will be detailing more natural and effective ways to prevent these cancers.
Yours for better health,
Frank Shallenberger, MD
Chen AC, Martin AJ, et al. N Engl J Med. 2015 Oct 22;373(17):1618-26. “A Phase 3 Randomized Trial of Nicotinamide for Skin-CancerChemoprevention.”