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Sun Damage - Repairing and Protection

Skin Conditions | November 21, 2018 | Author: Naturopath

Skin conditions, cancer

Sun Damage - Repairing and Protection

With the onset of summer, we all start to think about skin health and ways of protecting our skin from damage. Pealing off the layers of winter clothes and presenting skin to the sun will often reveal some concerning skin blemishes. These solar keratosis can become more apparent as we age or on those that spend a lot of time in the sun. Comparing the skin on your hand to that of places that don’t see so much sun, such as your tum or bum, can be really enlightening.

As well as being sun wise in summer by covering up, avoiding sun in the middle of the day, and using sun block, there is Nicotinamide (Vitamin B3). Not only has nicotinamide been shown to help prevent sun damage, it also has been found to reverse it.

Squamous and basal cell carcinoma’s –  the amount of squamous cell and basal cell skin cancers were reduced by 23% in one year in a trial of oral nicotinamide against placebo, among people at high risk of skin cancer. This study also found that nicotinamide reduced the risk of developing actinic keratosis, a skin condition closely associated with skin cancer. [1]

What are Squamous and Basal cell cancers?

Squamous Cell Carcinoma – is an abnormal growth of cells in the outer-most layer (the epidermis) of the skin, especially in areas frequently exposed to the sun. Squamous cell cancers generally appear as a spot or raised area that is fast growing and may be tender to touch and resemble a sore that does not heal.

What are Squamous and Basal cell cancer?Basal Cell Carcinoma – tend to grow in the lower-layer of the epidermis on areas of skin that may experience intermitted but high temperature sun exposure. It is a slower growing cancer that may have no symptoms and accounts for around 70% of skin cancers in Australia. Basal cell cancers are pearl-like in appearance or may be a dry, scaly area that appears shiny, pale or bright pink.

Squamous and Basal cell carcinomas are caused from damage of the skin from UV radiation usually from sun exposure. They occur most often in people of fair complexion that tends to burn rather than tan; people with fair or red hair; people with freckles and unusual moles, and people who have had a previous skin cancer.

What are Actinic keratosis?

Actinic keratosis, often known as solar keratosis, or age spots, often appear after the age of 40 and show no symptoms other than itching.  

They generally appear as:

  • Brown, red or pink in appearance
  • Size usually smaller than two and half centimetres
  • Flat or slightly raised pump
  • Scaly, rough dry surface
  • Wart-like appearance (sometimes)
  • May itch

What are Actinic keratosis?These blemishes appear as a result of time spent in the sun and usually take years to develop.

The will often appear suddenly showing up on skin most often exposed to the sun such as back of hands, ears, face and neck. [3]

Risk Factors

  • Age over 40 years
  • Frequent exposure to UV rays from sun or sun beds
  • Sunny climate
  • People with blue or light-coloured eyes or blonde or red coloured hair
  • People who tend to freckle or burn easy on sun exposure
  • History of skin keratosis or skin cancer
  • Immune insufficiency such as those with AIDS or on chemotherapeutic drugs [3]


Nicotinamide is a water-soluable and active form of Vitamin B3. Clinical studies have been performed on this form of Vitamin B3 and found it to support DNA repair and skin health.

How does it work?

Supports DNA repair – Nicotinamide supports the pathways of repair of skin damaged by UV radiation.

It does this by repleting the energy of the cells allowing them to to repair DNA quicker and more efficiently. 

NicotinamideThe repair of DNA is essential for every cell in the body, in their survival, repair, vitality and cancer protection. [5] [6]

UV radiation not only damages DNA in skin cells but also suppresses the skin's natural immunity - meaning damage occurs more rapidly and the skin is unable to protect itself - allowing damaging changes to occur.

How to Use

Nicotinamide is available as a tablet to swallow or can be applied topically in a cream form. Check with your health care provider if Nicotinamide will be right for you and follow specific instructions for administation or application.
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Summing up

The type of Vitamin B3 found to reduce the risk of Basal and Squamous cancers and reduced the appearance of solar keratosis is Nicotinamide. 

Note that unlike other forms of B3 such as Niacin, Nicotinamide does not cause symptoms of flushing or headache and has no side effects.

Cautions and contraindications -

Not recommended for use during pregnancy and breast-feeding.
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[1] Oral Nicotinamide Prevents Common Skin Cancers in High-Risk Patients, Reduces Costs



[4] Nicotinamide enhances repair of ultraviolet radiation-induced DNA damage in human keratinocytes and ex vivo skin.



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