Vitamin lotion may help skin cancer fight
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
Dermatologists are hoping a lotion containing a common vitamin could be the key to reducing skin cancer rates in Australia.
Scientists have found a cream containing vitamin B3 can significantly increase the skin's ability to stop skin cancers forming.
The results will be presented at an international dermatology conference this weekend.
Even as little as six minutes in the sun can weaken the body's defences against skin cancer.
Researchers at the New South Wales Cancer Institute painted healthy volunteers with a lotion containing vitamin B3 or nicotinamide.
They found those patients treated with the substance suffered no damage to their immunity when exposed to ultra violet light.
In another first, the study found men were twice as likely to suffer immune damage from the sun than women.
Scientists are not exactly sure how vitamin B3 boosts the skin's defences against cancer.
Tests so far have shown it is safe and effective as a topical treatment.
"It's inexpensive, easy to obtain and safe.. so for all of those reasons we hope we can add it to our weapons to defeat skin cancer," Dr Diona Damian, senior lecturer in dermatology at University of Sydney, said.
At the moment vitamin B3 is used only in small amounts in some cosmetic creams.
Researchers say in the future it could be added to sunscreens to boost their effectiveness.
"This raises the prospect of using sunscreen not just to prevent the initiation of cancer but also the downstream effect of developing skin cancer," Dr Andrew Penman, head of the New South Wales Cancer Council, said.
The next step is to trial the lotion in high-risk patients and those who have already had a skin cancer removed.
The full paper will be presented at the Australasian College of Dermatologists meeting in Perth.
Editor's Note: * Would it not be better to advise everyone to eat foods high in Vitamin B3 and Vitamin B Complex? A well-balanced Vegan diet contains ample quantities of Vitamin B Complex and Vitamin B3. Nuts, legumes and Whole grains are rich sources. - Ed.