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Can vitamins prevent skin cancer

Can vitamins prevent skin cancer


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  • - SARAH ZHOU
  • - M.D.C.M CANDIDATE
  • - MCGILL UNIVERSITY

CAN VITAMINS PREVENT SKIN CANCER?

At some point, you likely have come across an advertisement boasting the anti-cancer properties of vitamins. Can vitamins protect against skin cancer?

Vitamin B3 (also known as niacin) is found in foods such as fish, vegetables, nuts and grains. Due to its cellular effects, niacin and its derivative, nicotinamide, are used to treat various skin condition in the field of dermatology. More recently, daily nicotinamide supplementation has been shown to reduce the risk of nonmelanoma skin cancers (also known as squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma) in high-risk patients.

Before you ditch the sunscreen and go out to buy a summer supply of vitamins, here are some important things to consider:

  • Nicotinamide is not endorsed to replace sunscreen and healthy sun-protective behaviours.
  • It has not been shown to reduce the risk of melanoma – a serious form of skin cancer that can rapidly spread to other organs if not treated.
  • Further, the patients in the study were high-risk patients, with at least two nonmelanoma skin cancers diagnosed in the past 5 years. The effect of nicotinamide on a healthy general population has not been identified yet.
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While it is important to have a diet that includes vitamins and minerals, supplementation should not be used as a replacement for healthy sun-protective behaviours!

  • Fox, M. (May 2015). Vitamin Pill Cuts Skin Cancer Risk. Retrieved July 2020,Visit More
  • Chen A, Martin A, Choy B, et al. (2015). A Phase 3 Randomized Trial of Nicotinamide for Skin-Cancer Chemoprevention. New England Journal of Medicine, 373, pp 1618-1626.