An epidemic is sweeping our nation – skin cancer is on the rise with over 4 million new cases diagnosed every year in the United States. The vast majority of these skin cancers are of the basal and squamous cell carcinoma type. These types of skin cancer have an indisputable link with sun exposure. Melanoma type skin cancer is also increasing- this more deadly subtype has both a sun induced and genetic component. As a society, we are now quite conscious about sunscreen. Are there other things we can do to help prevent this epidemic of skin cancer?
- Nicotinamide: Also known as vitamin B3 – nicotinamide has been shown in several trials to reduce the incidence of non-melanoma skin cancer. A trial of 386 Australian patients who had more than 8 skin cancers over the past 5 years showed that those who took nicotinamide had a 23% reduction in skin cancers compared to those who took placebo. Furthermore, those in the nicotinamide group had a 13% reduction in precancerous lesions known as actinic keratoses. Not only is nicotinamide effective, but it is quite affordable (typically about 6 cents per day) and well tolerated, with no major adverse effects. Here is a link to a previous Tareen Dermatology blog post on nicotinamide: http://www.tareendermatology.com/cms/2015/06/29/a-pill-today-to-keep-cancer-away/
Photo credit: biophix.com
- Polypodium leucotomos: Also known as the calaguala plant, this product is commercially available in a standardized product called Heliocare. The evidence for this plant extract is that it acts as an antioxidant- protecting the skin against free radical damage that stimulates mutations and skin cancers. Since free radicals also contribute to skin aging, Heliocare is also thought to have a cosmetic benefit!
Photo credit: heliocare.com
- Milk thistle: Also known as Silybum marianum, this plant is still being studied to reduce skin cancer. In animal studies it does have a protective benefit. Furthermore, it is safe and inexpensive.
Photo credit: naturemade.com
At Tareen Dermatology in Roseville, Minnesota we hope that all of our patients both protect their skin with sun protective clothing and sunscreen as well as prevent skin cancer with these great natural strategies!