If you’ve been diagnosed with more than a handful skin cancers, your doctor may have already recommended a simple vitamin, Vitamin B3, to help reduce the risk of recurring cancer.

Vitamin B3 – also known as nicotinamide – is a simple and inexpensive treatment that can reduce the risk of developing a new basal cell carcinoma (BCC) by 20% and a new squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) by 30%.

However, the benefit of B3 in high risk skin cancer patients ends within weeks of stopping this supplement.

How does B3 prevent new skin cancers from forming?

Skin cancer occurs when UV radiation damages the skin’s natural ability to repair damage, which can lead to uncontrolled growth of cancerous cells.

Vitamin B3 helps to repair this damage and reduce the risk of further skin cancers by increasing the energy available to cells, helping repair the damaged cell DNA and reducing the immune suppression caused by UV radiation.

B3 can also help your body to heal pre-cancerous scaly sun spots.

Can Vitamin B3 prevent skin cancer if I haven’t had it yet?

No, Vitamin B3 has not been shown to reduce the risk of skin cancer or sun spots in people who have not had them before. Therefore, your doctor is highly unlikely to recommend B3 as a skin cancer prevention method.

Does B3 have the same effect on melanoma?

In theory, Vitamin B3 should have the same effect on reducing recurring melanoma, however there are no studies to support this idea just yet. This is mostly due to the fact that melanoma is much less common than BCC and SCC, so medical researchers haven’t been able to collect significant evidence so far.

What else is B3 useful for?

When applied directly to the skin as a cream, B3 has demonstrated numerous benefits, including:

  • Reducing visible signs of sun damage and ageing such as pigmentation and fine wrinkles
  • Reducing blotchiness
  • Increasing elasticity
  • Improving skin’s healing after excisions.

Please note Vitamin B3 is often listed as niacinamide in product descriptions.

How can I take Vitamin B3?

Vitamin B3 is present in small amounts in yeast, meat, fish, eggs, milk, nuts, legumes and cereals. However, even a balanced diet rich in these foods will fall significantly short of the B3 levels required to reduce your risk of ongoing skin cancer.

For the prevention of recurring SCC, BCC and pre-cancerous sun spots; the most effective dose of Vitamin B3 is as a nicotinamide 500mg tablet, twice daily. We have the right dosage available for purchase at Skin Repair Skin Cancer Clinic.

Are there any safety concerns or side effects associated with Vitamin B3?

Side effects are very rare from nicotinamide at the recommended dose of 500mg twice daily. In dosages higher than this, some people will experience nausea, gastrointestinal side effects, and temporary affects to liver function.

It is important to remember that B3 does not cure cancer, can not prevent all cancers and should never be used as a substitute for sunscreen and other protective measures. We always recommend that you minimise your exposure to sunlight in order to prevent sun damage.