Basal and squamous cell cancers are the most common type of skin cancers. They're relatively easy to treat, but they tend to keep coming back. So is there a way to keep them from returning? Researchers in Australia have found that a common vitamin may be all you need to prevent these skin cancers.
Dr. Diona Damian and her team of researchers followed 386 Australians. All of them had a history of skin cancer, which meant they were high risk for getting it again. In fact, they all had suffered through two skin cancers in the previous five years.
Dr. Damian's team divided the participants into two groups. One group took a placebo. And the second group took 500 mg of vitamin B3 twice a day for one year.
After the year was over, the researchers found that the vitamins reduced cancer recurrence by 23%. They also reduced pre-cancerous skin conditions. And they reduced actinic keratoses, which is a condition that produces scaly skin patches. These patches are a precursor to skin cancer. The reduction in actinic keratoses improved the longer the participants took the nutrients. At the three-month mark, the reduction was 11%. But after six months, the reduction nearly doubled to 20%.
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These results are very impressive. What I found particularly interesting, though, was what happened after the participants stopped taking their vitamins. Within six months of stopping the vitamins, the participants began to develop cancers again. And they did so at the same rate as they had before the study started. Dr. Damian said, "The benefit wears off fairly quickly. You need to continue taking the tablets for them to continue to be effective."
Like many vitamins, the protection doesn't begin the minute you start taking the B vitamin. The researchers think that the “preventive effect" might begin as soon as three months after you start taking them.
Vitamin B3 is also known as niacin or niacinamide. Niacin, as you may know, causes a flushing reaction when you take it. But niacinamide does not. You can get vitamin B3 from foods such as meat, fish, eggs, green vegetables and nuts. It's especially prevalent in brewer's yeast and organ meats.
The researchers didn't say whether you could get enough vitamin B3 to protect yourself from cancer. While it's certainly possible, it might be difficult to keep track every day. Many people would rather take the same 500 mg used in the study. That allows them to avoid both keeping track and the niacin flush. You can find niacinamide at any health food store and online.
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Steve Kroening is the editor of Nutrient Insider, a twice-a-week email newsletter that brings you the latest healing breakthroughs from the world of nutrition and dietary supplements. For over 20 years, Steve has worked hand-in-hand with some of the nation's top doctors, including Drs. Robert Rowen, Frank Shallenberger, Nan Fuchs, William Campbell Douglass, and best-selling author James Balch. Steve is the author of the book Practical Guide to Home Remedies. As a health journalist, Steve's articles have appeared in countless magazines, blogs, and websites.