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Skin Conditions | July 19, 2016 | Author: Naturopath


We can’t see it with our eyes, but ultraviolet light can cause a heavy toll on our skin. Although everyone is at risk, those with fair skin, light hair, blue, grey, or green eyes or have many freckles or moles, are in the group most at risk for developing skin cancer [1]. This invisible form of light penetrates deep into skin cells where it can cause damage to DNA [2]. This can cause accelerated aging of skin and lead to mutations in DNA that can cause disease. Among these being various types of skin cancer.

2 out of 3 Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer It seems almost unavoidable. A side effect of the way we live our lives. Weekends spent at the beach, by the pool, hiking, barbecuing in the backyard, or even playing football with our friends. Perhaps it was a spur of the moment decision and you forgot your sunscreen. Oh well, you might think, once won’t make a difference, but one turns into a few times which can equal years spent in the sun without protection. All the while you are soaking up hefty doses of UV light.

Two out of three Australians will be diagnosed with some type of skin cancer by the time they are 70 [3]. This shocking statistic includes people diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and worst of all, melanoma. Here is a little bit of information about these frightening diseases.

Basal cell carcinoma

Basal Cell carcinoma can be summed up as uncontrolled growth or lesions that arise in skin’s basal cells, the deepest layer of the epidermis (skin)[3].

shutterstock_117347707It is the most common and least dangerous type of skin cancer. It is least likely to spread to the rest of the body, but can cause disfiguring injuries to the skin and surrounding tissues. It most commonly occurs on the face, head, neck, and ears [4]. Though it is not considered exceedingly dangerous, it must still be excised and can leave scars and other visible abnormalities on your skin. Since it occurs most often on the face and head, most people would rather not have to deal with the possibility of permanent scarring from a carcinoma being cut away by a surgeon.

Squamous cell carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma is a cancer that develops in epithelial cells of the skin (upper layers that that are most exposed to the sun). It is the manifestation of uncontrolled growth in these cells [5].

shutterstock_364385159The epithelium is a type of tissue found in many places throughout the body and because of this, a cancer in one location can potentially spread to other areas. Treatment is likely to involve surgery or/and harsh drugs leaving you tired, sick, and scarred. With the added threat of substantial risk of metastasis, or spread of the cancer to other parts of the body, squamous cell carcinoma is not something to be taken lightly [6].


Melanoma is the third most common and most dangerous type of skin cancer. It is a type of cancer that develops in pigment containing cells called melanocytes [7].

shutterstock_205867801These cells give our skin its color. When damaged by UV light, they can begin to grow and multiply uncontrollably.

In women, melanoma most commonly occurs on the legs, with men, it is most commonly found on the back. 

Areas you may not pay a lot of attention to and because of this, melanoma can develop for long periods of time before being detected. 

This is where a significant part of the danger lies.

Though an uncommon occurrence, melanoma can spread to the liver, bones, lymph nodes, and even the brain.

Once it begins to spread through the body, treatment becomes complicated, difficult, and painful. The five year survival rate for patients with melanoma that has not metastasized is around 98% [8]. Not quite 100%, but still pretty good. Unfortunately the five year survival rate for patients with melanoma that has spread drops to a low 17% [8]. It is not quite a death sentence, but it sure is close. And this happens in large numbers of patients due to the inability of people to see the spots where the disease is most likely to manifest. Treatment for melanoma can be as simple as a quick surgery, or it can take the form of a lengthy course of harsh drugs that will leave you sick and weak.

Now that we’re all terrified of getting on with our lives and going outdoors, what can we actually do to prevent the development of skin cancer in its various forms? Sunscreen can be effective, but more and more emerging research is telling us that sunscreen can actually have negative effects [9]. Invariably, you will need to reapply your sunscreen. How many of us can honestly say that is something we do regularly? We can’t rely on sunscreen alone to save us. While still useful, we need to find something to supplement our use of sunscreen.


shutterstock_247296481This is  where nicotinamide comes in. Although it does sound similar to “nicotine” due to a very slight resemblance in chemical structure, this has nothing to do with tobacco! Nicotinamide is a form of vitamin B3, a nontoxic and inexpensive vitamin, that has been found to have a profoundly beneficial effects on the skin. This includes decreasing various types of inflammation of the skin, reduce the signs of acne and most importantly a decrease in the incidence of skin cancer [10]

A recent study performed in Australia showed that regular consumption of nicotinamide by people with a history of skin cancer caused a significant decrease in re occurrence of the disease [11]. These were people that had already suffered from skin cancer and had a pre-cancerous condition called actinic keratosis at the time of the study[12]  [13] .

Nicotinamide has been found to help to reduce existing precancerous skin lesions, reduce numbers of new non-melanoma skin cancers and may even help to prevent melanoma [14].

How does it work

UV radiation increases the risk of skin cancer by damaging our DNA, preventing repair by depleting cellular ATP (cell energy), and suppressing our skins' anti tumor immunity. Nicotinamide is a  precursor of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, an essential co factor for ATP production. Nicotinamide prevents ATP depletion, supporting cellular energy and enhancing DNA repair. Nicotinamide also helps stop the reduction in immunity, induced by UV radiation, which is triggered by DNA damage [13] Australia has the highest incidence of skin cancer in the world. Researchers are suggesting  including vitamin B3 in sunscreen could prevent 50% of non-melanoma skin cancers [14].

Nicotinamide can be taken in tablet form in doses of 500 mg up to 1500 mg daily or as a cream, rubbed into the skin  [13] .This preventive treatment has no side effects. Unlike niacin, another form of vitamin B3, nicotinamide does not cause headache or increased blood pressure [15].


Eating a healthy, balanced diet reduces your risk of developing any cancer. Improving your diet can be as simple as trying to eat more:    

  • vegetables
  • fruit
  • legumes
  • wholegrain cereals
  • foods containing vitamin B3 -  almonds, beef, chicken, eggs, salmon, mackerel, sardines, legumes, peanuts, sunflower seeds and yeast [16]  Australia’s best online discount chemist


2. Saladi RN, Persaud, AN (January 2005). "The causes of skin cancer: a comprehensive review.". Drugs of today (Barcelona, Spain: 1998) 41 (1): 37–53. doi:10.1358/dot.2005.41.1.875777. PMID 15753968
7. "Melanoma Treatment–for health professionals (PDQ®)". National Cancer Institute. June 26, 2015. Retrieved 30 June 2015 8. SEER Stat Fact Sheets: Melanoma of the Skin". NCI. Retrieved June 2015
10. Niren NM (2006). "Pharmacologic doses of nicotinamide in the treatment of inflammatory skin conditions: a review". Cutis 77 (1 Suppl): 11–6. PMID 16871774
11. Surjana, Devita; Halliday, Gary M.; Martin, Andrew J.; Moloney, Fergal J.; Damian, Diona L. (2012-05-01). "Oral Nicotinamide Reduces Actinic Keratoses in Phase II Double-Blinded Randomized Controlled Trials". Journal of Investigative Dermatology 132 (5): 1497–1500. doi:10.1038/jid.2011.459. ISSN 0022-202X
12. Andrew James Martin; Andrew Chen; Bonita Choy; Pablo Fernandez Penas; Gary Halliday; Robyn Dalziell; Catriona McKenzie; Richard A Scolyer; Haryana M. Dhillon; Janette L. Vardy; Gaya St George; Nira Chinniah; Diona Damian (2015). "Oral nicotinamide to reduce actinic cancer: A phase 3 double-blind randomized controlled trial.". American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting, Chicago, 30 May 2015. J Clin Oncol 33, 2015 (suppl; abstr 9000).
16. Osiecki,H; The Nutrient Bible 9th Edition, pg 37, Bio Concepts publishing QLD Australia

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