How does Niacinamide actually work?

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We are often asked by our patients what can be done to reduce the risk of developing more skin cancer if they have already had basal or squamous cell skin cancer. The one thing that most people may already be doing is using sunscreen with at least an SPF of 30 so as to not add to the UV skin’s damage but there is also another option that most may not know about – taking a certain vitamin daily! 

The name of the vitamin is niacinamide (NOT to be confused with Niacin). It is the active form of vitamin B3. It can be found in small quantities naturally in things like lean meats, fish, nuts, yeast, and legumes and can also be found in some multivitamins or in its own supplement. 

Niacinamide 500 mg taken twice a day has been shown to decrease the number of new basal and squamous cell skin cancers by a whopping 23% in one year. The number of actinic keratosis (commonly referred to as “pre-cancers” have also been shown to be reduced in patients taking niacinamide. It is thought that this supplement works by boosting the immune response to skin cancers and enhances cellular repair mechanisms. 

The next question you may ask is what are the side effects from Niacinamide? A large study showed that there we no difference in side effects between Niacinamide and the placebo. It has been reported that it can rarely cause increased sweating, raise blood sugar, or cause low blood pressure. 

Niacinamide 500 mg is available over the counter and can be purchased at most pharmacies or online retailers. The dose that we recommend is 500 mg twice a day and it needs to be Niacinamide or Nicotinamide NOT niacin. Don’t forget to always check with your family doctor prior to taking any medication or supplementation, just to be safe.

To see me for your dermatologic issues or pre-screens, contact me, Amy Hahn, PA-C at our Lansdale, PA dermatology office. 

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