Vitamin B3 may be helpful for preventing skin cancer

We all know that protection from the sun with clothing and sunscreens can prevent skin cancer.

Now we can use an oral agent also. A recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine from Australia looked at the benefit of using simple Vitamin B3 (nicotinamide) for prevention of nonmelanoma skin cancer. That’s basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas. Patients with a history of skin cancer were given Vitamin B3 500 mg twice daily for one year and compared to similar patients who did not take the vitamin.

After 12 months, the incidence of new skin cancers in the Vitamin B3 group was 23% lower than the other group. This astounding result means that everybody with a history of excessive sun exposure or previous skin cancer should probably take Vitamin B3. It is very inexpensive with virtually no side effects.

Other oral agents that are attracting attention in skin cancer prevention are the Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and others. These medications, although widely taken, can have side effects on the gastrointestinal tract and heart. A discussion should be had with your primary care provider before taking NSAIDs.