Vitamin B3 may help prevent some common skin cancers

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A large study has found that a certain B3 vitamin may reduce the risk of the most common skin cancers. Melanoma was not involved in the study, only the more common basal and squamous cell cancers.

The study, funded by Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council, included 386 people who had at least two skin cancers in the previous 5 years.

In the double-blind study, the participants took either 500 mg of the B3 vitamin nicotinamide or dummy pills twice a day for 1 year, and were followed for 6 months after they stopped taking the pills. Those taking the vitamin had a 23% lower rate of new cancers.

In addition, the rate of precancers was also reduced, by 11% after 3 months and 20% after 9 months. However, the benefits did not continue once the pills were stopped. Six months after discontinuing the pills, the rate of new skin cancers was similar in both groups.

Nicotinamide is thought to help repair the DNA damage caused by sun exposure. Vitamin use for cancer prevention, however, is controversial, and some studies have even found them to be harmful.

Furthermore, despite the positive results of this study, the researchers stress that vitamin use is not for people who have not yet had one of these cancers and that people should always practice basic sun-sensible behaviors. 

Vitamin B3 may help prevent some common skin cancers
A certain B3 vitamin may reduce the risk of the most common skin cancers.
For the first time, a large study suggests that a vitamin might modestly lower the risk of the most common types of skin cancer in people with a history of these relatively harmless yet troublesome growths.
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