(HealthDay News) — Nicotinamide appears to reduce non-melanoma skin cancers by 23% when taken twice daily, according to a report published in the October 22 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Diona Damian, MBBS, PhD, a professor of dermatology at the University of Sydney, and colleagues launched a clinical trial involving 386 high-risk patients who’d had at least two non-melanoma skin cancers during the previous five years. Their average age was 66 and two-thirds were men. Many also had chronic health conditions, such as arthritis, hypertension, or cardiovascular or lung disease. Half of the group took nicotinamide twice daily for a year. The other half took a placebo. Dermatologists checked for skin cancer every three months.

The patients taking nicotinamide showed immediate benefits. “This reduction in skin cancers seemed to start as early as the first three-month visit,” Damian told HealthDay. By the end of the one-year study period, new non-melanoma skin cancer rates were down 23% in the nicotinamide group compared to the placebo group, the researchers found. The vitamin supplement also appeared to reduce the numbers of actinic keratoses: a reduction in the nicotinamide group of 11% at three months and 20% at nine months of treatment.

However, those benefits quickly disappeared during the study’s follow-up period. “When people stopped taking their tablets after 12 months, the benefit was no longer seen,” Damian said. “In other words, you need to continue taking the tablets in order for them to be effective.” Nicotinamide did not appear to cause any more adverse events than the placebo, the researchers added.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to Blackmores, a manufacturer of vitamins, minerals, and dietary supplements.

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