An inexpensive vitamin B3 product, widely available over the counter, has been shown to reduce significantly the risk of developing further skin cancers in patients who have already been diagnosed with nonmelanoma skin cancer. The product is nicotinamide, taken orally 500 mg twice daily.
"This is the first clear evidence that we can reduce skin cancers using a simple vitamin, together with sensible skin protection," commented senior study author Diona Damian, MBBS, PhD, professor of dermatology at the Dermatology University of Sydney in Australia.
"It is safe and...inexpensive, and this one is ready to go into the clinic," she said.
Nonmelanoma skin cancer is the most common cancer worldwide, she said.
In Australia, it is four times more common than any other cancer, and it affects more than half the population during their lifetime.
The finding, from the Australian ONTRAC (Oral Nicotinamide to Reduce Actinic Cancer) study, was presented during a press briefing held in advance of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) 2015 Annual Meeting.
The results released today show that patients who took nicotinamide 500 mg twice daily for 1 year showed a 23% reduction in new diagnoses of nonmelanoma skin cancer, compared with those who took placebo (P = .02). Specifically, new diagnoses of basal cell carcinoma were reduced by 20%, squamous cell carcinoma by 30%, and actinic keratoses by 13%.