By Glen Crawford, M.D. and Camille E. Introcaso, M.D.
When it comes to vitamins, there are no shortage of opinions about the potential benefits. However, very few studies have been conducted to prove their clinical effects. Recently, a research study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (one of the world’s most esteemed medical journals), demonstrated that study participants who took niacinamide (a form of Vitamin B3) were found to have a 23% lower risk of non-melanoma skin cancers such as basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. It is not clear at this point whether niacinamide provides any benefit in the prevention of melanoma, which is less common but potentially more dangerous.Who should take niacinamide? At the present time, we recommend that only those patients at highest risk start taking niacnimade orally. Adults who have had two or more non-melanoma skin cancers (e.g. basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma) should benefit most from taking this vitamin. Recommended dosage is 500 mg twice a day, and can be purchased at many grocery stores, pharmacies, or health food markets. Niacinamide is also found in small amounts in a well-balanced diet and in some available multivitamins. Niacinamide may also be referred to as “nicotinamide”; however, Niacin is NOT the same thing, and carries some potential risk. Additionally, niacinamide does not protect individuals from the sun. Even for those individuals who take niacinamide, we recommend appropriate sun protection and avoidance behaviors. Please ask our staff about our line of sun protection products and sunscreens (some of which contain niacinamide).
1. Chen AC, Martin AJ, Choy B, et al. A phase 3 randomized trial of nicotinamide for skin-cancer chemoprevention. N Engl J Med 2015;373:1618-26.