(NaturalHealth365) Research published in the New England Journal of Medicine offers new hope to those at high risk of developing the most common types of skin cancer. The study found that a form of vitamin B3 significantly decreased the chance of high-risk patients developing non-melanoma skin cancer.
Nicotinamide, the active form of vitamin B3, was found to reduce the rate of non-melanoma skin cancer by 23 percent. Commonly available in over-the-counter supplements, it has been found to be very well tolerated without unfavorable side effects.
12-month study points to reduced skin cancer risk with vitamin B3
Lab and animal studies have already shown nicotinamide to hold promise in preventing skin cancers, particularly the most common, non-melanoma variety that are the subject of this latest human study. But even though it was suspected that taking vitamin B3 could reduce skin cancer risk, the results were surprisingly dramatic.
The 12-month study involved 386 healthy subjects, all with a history of at least two non-melanoma skin cancers over the past five years, making them at risk for further skin cancers. Subjects were assigned to one of two groups: one receiving 500 mg of nicotinamide twice-daily and the other receiving only a placebo.
After 12 months, the rate of new non-melanoma skin cancers was reduced by 23 percent in those receiving the nicotinamide supplement compared to subjects receiving the placebo. It is unusual for a single, natural change to have such a significant impact.
More great news about vitamin B3
The researchers also looked at results based on tumor type. Basal cell carcinoma is the most common skin cancer, accounting for 80 percent of all such cancers. They found that those receiving the B3 supplement had 20 percent fewer diagnoses of basal cell carcinomas. The rate of squamous cell carcinoma development, which represents about 20 percent of skin cancers, was reduced by 30 percent compared with the control group.
The good news doesn’t stop there. After three months into the study, those receiving B3 also showed an 11 percent reduction in new premalignant actinic keratosis, the precancerous lesions produced by excessive sun exposure. By the end of 12 months, that reduction had edged upward to 13 percent.
Repairing DNA and supporting the immune system
Scientists believe that nicotinamide’s ability to offer protection against non-melanoma skin cancers is multi-pronged. But its two primary modes of protection lie in its power to boost the body’s ability to repair damaged DNA. It accomplishes this by enhancing the body’s ability to produce ATP – which the body relies on to repair DNA.
The other critical factor is its ability to guard against immunosuppression caused by the sun’s rays. Previous research has suggested that ultraviolet radiation may suppress the immune system within the skin. Although that seems unlikely, several human studies have found that nicotinamide can protect against ‘ultraviolet-induced immunosuppression.’
Clearly, the research seems to suggest that it’s probably safe to have moderate amounts of sun exposure – but, we also need to be adequately supplied with good nutrition.
Protection ends when B3 supplementation is discontinued
There appears to be no residual effect to supplementing with nicotinamide. Another notable finding from the study of B3 and skin cancer is that protection against skin cancer for at-risk patients ended once the supplementation ended. This underscores the need for continual oral intake of nicotinamide. (and, vitamin B-rich foods)
While daily supplementation can provide a strong foundation of protection against the sun’s harmful rays, it may not be enough protection in all situations. If you are expecting prolonged exposure to the sun, you may not want to rely only on vitamin B3. Instead, combine daily supplementation with nicotinamide with the proper clothing to protect the skin.
Common sense would suggest – don’t overdo sun exposure and eat a healthy amount of organic fruits and veggies, on a daily basis.
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