Most of us are aware of the “slip, slop, slap, seek, slide” slogan of the Cancer Council campaign to encourage us to practice sun smart behaviours to reduce the risk of skin cancers.
And it certainly is all very valid sold evidence backed advice.
Yet did you know that there are two specific vitamins that can give you significant protection from getting sun burnt and subsequent skin cancers? Yes, vitamins!
So, firstly let’s talk about niacinamide, a form of vitamin B3.
In 2015 a research group in Sydney found that taking niacinamide daily in a dose of 500-1000 mg resulted in 13% fewer precancerous sun spots appearing, and a 23% lower risk to develop a non-melanoma (that is, basal cell cancer and squamous cell cancer).
Food sources of niacinamide include salmon, tuna, chicken, turkey, anchovies, and pork. It is also available as an inexpensive over-the-counter vitamin supplement.
Secondly, let’s discuss retinol and vitamin A.
Retinoid compounds, including retinol, retinal, and retinoic acid, are collectively referred to as vitamin A. Several studies from the USA between 2011 and 2019 have confirmed that retinoids, in particular retinol, may lead to at least a 17% lower risk of squamous cell cancer. Higher vitamin A intake largely from fruits and vegetables is associated with decreased risk of SCC, and there are available over-the-counter supplements as well. The advised dose is around 10000 IU (one to two tablets depending on manufacturer) per day.
Lastly a quick word about sunscreen.
Not far away, in Nambour, two very powerful studies conducted by cancer epidemiologist Professor Adele Green showed that daily sunscreen could lower the occurrence of squamous cell cancer by 60%, and the risk of melanoma by 50%. Powerful protection indeed.
So, slop on that sunscreen, and take your A & B3!