Australian researchers from ONTRAC (Oral Nicotinamide to Reduce Actinic Cancer) have found a form of vitamin B3, nicotinamide, linked to a 23% reduction of non-melanoma skin cancers when 500 mg is taken twice daily. Basal cell carcinoma were reduced by 20%, squamous cell carcinoma by 30%, and actinic keratoses by 13%. Benefits were seen within 3 months during the study, and unnlike niacin, nicotinamide showed no side effects when administered in large doses.
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the US with 5 million cases every year, 73,000 cases of which are melanoma. In Australia it is four times more common than any other cancer, affecting more than half the population during their lifetime.
UV radiation is the number one cause of skin cancer, causing damage to the skin cell DNA. Studies indicate that nicotinamide enhances the ability of skin cells to repair the DNA and strengthens the skin’s immune system, but the vitamin supplement had to be maintained as the benefits quickly disappeared once the supplement was no longer taken.
Although studies have not yet looked at the benefits for use in the general population, this study is promising for patients who already have skin cancer or a history of cancer. More research will need to be conducted to see if this form of vitamin B3 has a braoder application for the public.