ASCO: Nicotinamide could help prevent non-melanoma skin cancer

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ASCO: Nicotinamide May Help Prevent Non-Melanoma Skin CA
ASCO: Nicotinamide May Help Prevent Non-Melanoma Skin CA

THURSDAY, May 14, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- A form of vitamin B3 (nicotinamide) is linked to a reduction of non-melanoma skin cancers by 23 percent when taken twice daily, according to new research. The study is scheduled for presentation May 30 at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, held from May 29 to June 2 in Chicago.

Diona Damian, M.B.B.S., Ph.D., a professor of dermatology at the University of Sydney, and colleagues launched a clinical trial involving 386 high-risk patients who'd had at least two non-melanoma skin cancers during the previous five years. Their average age was 66 and two-thirds were men. Many also had chronic health conditions, such as arthritis, hypertension, or heart or lung disease. Half of the group took nicotinamide twice daily for a year. The other half took a placebo. Dermatologists checked for skin cancer every three months.

The people taking nicotinamide showed immediate benefits. "This reduction in skin cancers seemed to start as early as the first three-month visit," Damian told HealthDay. By the end of the one-year study period, new non-melanoma skin cancer rates were down 23 percent in the nicotinamide group compared to the placebo group, the researchers found. The vitamin supplement also appeared to reduce the numbers of actinic keratoses (AKs). AKs were reduced in the nicotinamide group by 11 percent at three months, and by 20 percent at nine months of treatment.

However, those benefits quickly disappeared during the study's follow-up period. "When people stopped taking their tablets after 12 months, the benefit was no longer seen," Damian said. "In other words, you need to continue taking the tablets in order for them to be effective." Nicotinamide did not appear to cause any more adverse events than the placebo, the researchers said.

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