This week saw the publication in the New England Journal of Medicine of a trial from the University of Sydney into using vitamin B3, also known as nicotinamide, for the prevention of non-melanoma skin cancers.
The research group found that taking 500mg twice a day of vitamin B3 reduced the risk of developing new basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas by 23% over a 12 month period. The incidence of actinic keratoses (pre-cancerous sun spots) was also reduced by up to 14% in those taking the vitamin, which works by protecting against damage caused by UV light. Vitamin B3 is found naturally in foods such as meat, fish, avocado, broccoli, mushrooms, almonds, spinach and Vegemite.
Whilst you would have to consume 1kg of Vegemite a day to get the dose that was used in the trial, 500mg tablets of nicotinamide are readily available from pharmacies and health food stores for around $10 per month. We have been recommending oral nicotinamide to our high-risk patients for a while now, but it is great to see the evidence that it really is effective