Vitamin B3 (nicotinamide) role in preventing skin cancer

Nicotinamide (Vitamin B3) has been shown by Professor Diona Damian's research group (The University of Sydney) to have a role in the prevention of non-melanoma skin cancer and the common pre-cancerous skin lesions, actinic keratoses. Their landmark study (ONTRAC) published in the New England Journal of Medicine late last year demonstrated a 23% reduction in new non-melanoma skin cancers in high-risk patients taking nicotinamide when compared with the placebo group. There was no significant difference in side-effects in the nicotinamide group versus the placebo group.

The exciting aspect of this research is that the treatment potentially offers an inexpensive and safe way to reduce non-melanoma skin cancer which is extremely common in New Zealand. Nicotinamide appears to work by enhancing DNA repair in sun-damaged skin, and by reducing the immunosuppression in the skin causing by UV light.