Promising role of an affordable and easily available vitamin supplement in preventing some skin cancers has been described in a recently published study.
The study conducted by the Australian researchers suggests that daily consumption of nicotinamide, a form of Vitamin B3 can prevent about 23% of non-melanoma skin cancers.
According to Dr.Diona Damian, a co-author of the study and a professor of dermatology at the University of Sydney,
It is very safe, incredibly cheap and a lot of commercial preparations are available over the counter.
She added that one would not have to pay more than $10 to buy a 30 days’ supply of vitamin B3, and most pharmacies and health food stores sell it.
This study is just a preliminary stage of confirming the supplement to be of health benefit and recommending for common people. Damian said that time has not come yet to make widespread use of this supplement as cancer preventive agent.
Skin cancer is a commonly occurring cancer in the US. About 5 million new cases are diagnosed each year, and the country spends $4.8 billion for their treatment purposes.
According to the American Cancer Society, most types of skin cancers develop very slowly and can be diagnosed and treated at early stages. Basal and squamous cell carcinoma constitute these slow-growing skin cancers. Conversely, melanoma occurs less commonly but is an aggressive type of malignancy.
It is believed that the ultraviolet rays coming from the sun alter the DNA structure of skin cells and play an important role in cancer development. UV rays suppress the immune system of the skin and damage the auto-repair capacity of the DNA by depriving skin cells of energy.
According to the previously done studies nicotinamide helps in maintaining healthy skin cells by increasing intracellular energy, aiding in DNA repair and boosting their immunity.
A study on Vitamin B
The effectiveness of nicotinamide in skin cancer prevention has been studied recently by a group of researchers. About 400 high-risk patients who developed, at least, two non-melanoma skin cancers in the past five years participated in the study. The median age of the subjects was 66 years, and two-third of them was male.
They were divided into two groups by random sampling, and one group was treated with nicotinamide for one year while the second group was given a placebo (inert medicine). Regular check up at every three months was done to see any evidence of skin cancer. During the study period, nicotinamide treated patients appeared to get the benefit as early as three months.
After completing the study, the researchers concluded that nicotinamide-treated group develops non-melanoma skin cancers 23% less frequently than the placebo group.
The vitamin supplement appeared to shrink some pre-malignant conditions of the skin (thick and scaly patches). Treatment with nicotinamide reduced these patches by 11% in first three months and 20% in nine months.
No significant adverse effect was noted with nicotinamide treatment when compared to placebo.
Researchers have planned to study the effect of nicotinamide in immune-suppressed conditions like after receiving organ transplants as the risk of developing skin cancer is 50 times greater during that time.
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