Taking Vitamin Supplements to Try to Help Prevent Skin Cancer

Can taking a vitamin supplement help to prevent skin cancers? That was a question I had several years ago. At that time, it seemed I was constantly needing areas biopsied during my six-month skin checks and if I was lucky enough to not need a biopsy, I inevitably had an area or three or four that needed to be treated with cryotherapy.

Skin check procedures are mentally exhausting

And honestly? Even though those procedures weren’t excessively grueling or taxing in the grand scheme of things, it was a lot. Mentally, I was exhausted knowing that at each visit, my dermatologist would point out areas that needed to be frozen or that she deemed questionable enough to warrant a biopsy and ultimately, surgery.

Then in 2020, I had my first Mohs surgery. I was first diagnosed with skin cancer in 1995 and have had numerous surgeries to remove cancerous areas over the years, but in late 2019 my doctor noticed a small area under my nose that hadn’t been there the previous appointment. She said we could either biopsy it or freeze it at this appointment and see how it looked at the next one. I opted for cryotherapy on the area. At my next six-month skin check, it was still there and it was time to have it biopsied.

The biopsy showed it was an infiltrating basal cell carcinoma, and my dermatologist (who usually does excisional surgeries in her office to remove my skin cancers) said she would not remove this one, as it was on my face. She said I needed Mohs surgery. Long story short, it was my first Mohs surgery, and I was terrified. It was the unknown, and I had seen some pretty scary photos of post-Mohs wounds on the internet.

Looking for ways to prevent recurrence

I had the surgery and I recovered (mostly), but I wanted to find out if there was anything else I could do to try to prevent more skin cancers from forming. I had been avoiding tanning beds for decades and was no longer laying out in the sun all day like I did when I was younger. I had a good collection of sunscreens, sun-protective clothing, and sun hats. But was there something more I could be doing?

Can niacinamide (B3) help prevent skin cancers? Maybe

I can’t tell you the exact date, but right around the time of the biopsy for this particular basal cell carcinoma, I had started taking niacinamide, which is a form of Vitamin B3. I had read several articles from dermatologists recommending the use of it to possibly help in reducing new skin cancers. And after almost twenty-five years of having skin cancer, and after having numerous surgeries to remove basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas, I was very interested in finding something that might possibly help cut down on new cancerous areas.

Consulting with my dermatologist

I asked my dermatologist about it, and she said that it would not hurt to take it, and additionally, it is an anti-inflammatory, which could also be helpful to my skin.

I had read that in addition to being an anti-inflammatory, niacinamide is also an antioxidant and can help with signs of aging. And as we know, sun exposure can cause wrinkles and leathery skin and make our skin look older. The biggest positive, however, for me in my decision to start taking niacinamide was in this sentence in an article I found on the National Library of Medicine: “As nicotinamide reduces the incidence of actinic keratoses and nonmelanoma skin cancers in high-risk individuals and enhances repair of DNA damage in melanocytes, it is a promising agent for the chemoprevention of melanoma in high-risk populations.”1

Vitamin, along with other care, might be helping me

I have now been taking niacinamide since 2020. And whether due to the Niacinamide or due to my taking better care of my skin throughout my adult years, I have definitely had a decrease in the frequency of new skin cancers that require surgery. I cannot say for certain the reason for this, but I’ll take all the help I can get in my battle with skin cancer!

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