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May 14, 2015 12:44 AM EDT

Vitamin B3 May Help Reduce Skin Cancer Risk


A new study suggests that an inexpensive vitamin supplement could modestly reduce the "occurrence of common skin cancers in people prone to the disease," The New York Times reported.

Australian researchers found that people who take nicotinamide, a form of vitamin B3, have a 23 percent lower risk of developing new skin cancers compared to those who took placebo pills.

"It's safe, it's almost obscenely inexpensive and it's widely available," Dr. Diona Damian, the lead investigator of the study, is quotes as saying by The Times.

For the study, researchers collected and analyzed data from nearly 400 volunteers for a year. They found that "icotinamide reduced the risk for both basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas, the most common types of non-melanoma skin cancers," Reuters reported. 
The average for the study participants "in the trial was eight cancers over the past five years; one patient had 52 cases," The Times reported.

Researchers saw that the vitamin was effective just three months after treatment started.

Damian said the vitamin shouldn't be used by everyone, only by those who have a high risk of skin cancer.

"This is not something we would recommend for the general population," Damian said, according to Reuters. 

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