Skin cancer prevention using Vitamin B3: niacinamide (also called nicotinamide)
Skin cancer is a major public health issue in the United States, and the rates of people diagnosed each year keep growing. Because of this, Dr. Stephen L. Comite at SkinProvement Dermatology New York places a great emphasis on not only diagnosing and treating skin cancer early, but also preventing it with as many strategies as possible. Aside from traditional recommendations such as sunscreen use and minimizing exposure with hats and protective clothing, research is underway about other effective skin cancer prevention methods. A recent study shows the effectiveness of taking niacinamide, a specific form of vitamin B3, twice daily to lessen the chance of having skin cancer in patients with a history of two or more skin cancers in the past five years.
Niacinamide, also known as nicotinamide, is an over the counter, inexpensive form of vitamin B3. The recommended dose for skin cancer prevention is 500 mg (milligrams) twice daily. In the study, there were no side effects, so this medication can be taken indefinitely. However, as with all medications, check with your primary care provider before starting niacinamide.
The medication is inexpensive – typically, about 300 pills can be obtained for 20 dollars, or about seven cents per pill. You do not need a prescription for it.
Do NOT purchase niacin, which is another form of vitamin B3. This will not be effective and has some nuisance side effects such as flushing.
After taking niacinamide, the skin cancer prevention aspect begins in about three months. Taking this medication will not prevent all skin cancers but should lessen the chance of getting them. Should you choose to stop the medication at any time, the skin cancer prevention effect will slowly fade.
Of course, as always, try to minimize sun exposure and wear sun protective clothing including UV-protective sunglasses where applicable.
Do not forget to apply daily sunscreen, and several times daily if you are having significant sun exposure or are sweating or swimming.