You know how to take care of your skin. Keep it clean, moisturize and every time you anticipate sun exposure you should use a broad-spectrum sunscreen. What you might not know is that you may be able to reduce your risk of skin cancer with a vitamin.
An Australian study focused on the link between skin cancer and vitamin B3. The deadliest skin cancer is melanoma, and melanoma was not the focus of this study. Rather, this study focused on basal and squamous cell cancers which are two very common forms of skin cancer. Basal and squamous cell skin cancers are very rarely fatal, though they are persistent cancers that can continue to return time and again. The study involved 386 individuals who had suffered from at lest two skin cancer in the previous five years. The 386 people were split into two groups and one group was given 500 milligrams of vitamin B3 to take twice daily while the other group received placebo tablets to take twice daily.
Participants in this study had to continue vitamin use twice a day for an entire year. Until the very end of the research neither participant nor doctor knew who had been given vitamin B3 and who had been given the placebo. The findings suggest that taking vitamin B3 did reduce the rates of skin cancer. Additionally, vitamin B3 helped reduce the rate of pre-cancerous skin growths known as actinic keratoses.
Participants in the study were followed for an additional six months to see whether the vitamins provided a lasting effect once they were no longer being taken. The research indicated that the return rate of cancers was about equal in both the placebo and vitamin group indicating that in order for the vitamin to be a viable help, it must be taken continuously.
Dr. Richard Schilsky of the American Society of Clinical Oncology stated that the study must be taken for what it is and that much more research will be needed. He also noted that Australians have higher rates of skin cancer than nearly anywhere else in the world. However, he did find it encouraging that the nicotinamide, the specific vitamin in B3, could be an alternative to the more costly procedures of removing skin cancers. Because basal and squamous cell skin cancers tend to reappear, the cost of surgery, freezing or radiation can become quite high.
The Australian researchers also warned that this study was not intended to make people with no previous history of basal and squamous cell skin cancers run out to begin taking vitamins. The only research conducted so far was among participants who already had skin cancers. The researchers theorize that nicotinamide is beneficial because it helps to repair the DNA of cells that have been damaged by sun exposure.
While the research is both interesting and hopeful, for the present doctors and skin care experts recommend that you practice safe and sensible skin care habits. Always use a broad-spectrum sunscreen and be sure to reapply frequently. Taking good care of your skin is an important part of keeping your entire body healthy.