MAY 20, 2015 06:50 PM PDT

More Fun in the Sun as Aussie Study Reveals Vitamin Pill Anticancer Effect

WRITTEN BY: Kareem Heslop
Headed to the beach this summer? If yes, it is an essential for many of us to pack our favorite brand of sunscreen. Thinking back to the glory days of the seventies not much has changed when you scan the coast of our beaches. Amidst the backdrop of the glowing sun and shimmering shore line, we most certainly find families and friends doing the ritualistic dance of applying the trusty sunblock. Finally, an Australian group of researchers decided, no more! The group headed by Dr. Diona Damian of Dermatology University of Sydney in Australia conducted the first large study of its kind to suggest that taking a vitamin can reduce skin cancer risk for patients with a history of the disease. This study involved 386 people who either took 500 milligram of the vitamin or a placebo twice per day for a whole year. (http://food.ndtv.com/health/vitamin-b3-reduces-risks-of-some-types-of-skin-cancer-763055)

Those who took the miracle pill, vitamin B3 reportedly had an almost 25 percent reduction in skin cancer occurrence compared to those who took the dummy pill. These reductions were observed for two of the most commonly occurring non-melanoma skin cancer types; basal cell cancers and squamous cell carcinomas. These are the most frequent forms of cancer in the United States.

Basal and squamous cell cancers are relatively easy to treat, however scaring is usually a major concern and a common occurrence in prescribed treatments. If left untreated, these mild forms of skin cancers can even cause death. Nicotinamide, is another name for Vitamin B3, and is a derivative of Niacin. Nicotinamide would be a cheaper treatment option for skin cancer patients. With Australia having a slightly higher incidence of skin cancer (60% of Australians) than the over three and a half million cases identified each year in the United States of America, a cheaper more accessible mode of treatment would be more than welcomed by the general public. Nicotinamide is available over the counter reportedly for as low as a nickel in a article by the Washington Post (http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/study-vitamin-b3-may-help-prevent-certain-skin-cancers/2015/05/13/e16dfeaa-f9b3-11e4-a47c-e56f4db884ed_story.html.)

The effects of Vitamin B3 are not long lasting the researchers suggested, and have to be taken continuously as a supplement in order to enjoy the full benefits of the treatment. Moreover, it is not encouraged that people with no history of skin cancer start taking this supplement. The findings of this study will be presented at the annual meeting of the oncology society on May 29th this year in Chicago.

This clinical trial which is funded by Australia's National Health and Medical Research Council provides a potentially safe and inexpensive option for skin cancer patients to go about living normal, healthy lives. As we look toward the horizon and squeeze out that last drop of sunscreen, we can have hope that skin cancer treatment might someday be just as simple as popping a vitamin in the morning.



CBS This Morning report on the new findings by an Australian research group that suggests Vitamin B3 can prevent non-melanoma skin cancers. The report goes on to talk about the mechanism of action of the drug as well as the side effects of traditional treatments of skin cancers.
About the Author
  • I am an undergraduate Biotechnology major at Claflin University whose research interest is the pursuit of the missing link of metabolism in cancer genesis and development.
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