As summer is fast approaching (in the Northern Hemisphere at least), I wanted to share some insights into some promising research about skin cancer prevention beyond the usual sunscreen and clothing options.
Day 25: The Silent Killer
As skin cancer is known as a silent killer, it's that much more important for people living in tropical climates, such as Florida and Australia, to listen up. Skin cancer lags about about 20 years. This is why you start seeing a lot more dark spots on your skin around 40. Luckily, younger generations are much more aware of the damage the sun has on our skin and eyes. However, tanning at the beach in the middle of the day in bikinis isn't going away anytime soon.
Although limiting sun exposure in your youth is the most successful way of decreasing your risk of skin cancer, this message is actually for people who have already "been there and done that". For people who have had >2 nonmelanoma skin cancers within the last 5 years, taking 500 mg of nicotinamide (B3 vitamin) 2x a day can reduce your chance of another skin cancer by 23% after 12 months. This is a really inexpensive way to take preventative measures for those at high risk of developing another skin cancer. So far, this particular study was only done in people who have ALREADY had squamous cell carcinoma. More research is still needed to see if it would help prevent first time skin cancer or if it would be effective in younger populations without a lot of sun damage. Also note, that the supplement to look for is nicotinamide NOT niacin, another form of vitamin B3.
The best part of all of this is it falls into my rule of "do no harm". This means that taking the supplement B3 2x a day has demonstrated no known side effects unlike the other form of B3 Niacin, which in excess can cause increased blood pressure, headaches, and a tingling sensation. Another important note, skin cancer can develop for other environmental and genetic reasons other than the sun. This post and research is based on skin cancer related to sun exposure, as we know increased sun exposure is directly correlated with increased skin cancer risk.
Disclaimer: This post is intended for educational purposes only and is not to be considered medical advice. For the full article on this subject, please click here. As always, you can schedule a health and wellness assessment and learn about our laboratory testing and check in on your general health and wellness.
Jen Pfeilfer, MS, APD
Dr. Thomas R. Schneider, Medical Director