Niacinamide: The New Anti-Inflammatory Champion

by Marie Veronique

    An exciting new study shows that niacinamide lowers the risk for nonmelanoma-type skin cancers.

    "A year of treatment with nicotinamide (niacinamide), a form of vitamin B3, significantly lowered the risk for skin cancer in high-risk patients,” an Australian study showed.

    People who used nicotinamide had 23% fewer new nonmelanoma lesions as compared with people who did not use the agent. All 386 participants in the study had a history of skin cancer, increasing their risk for additional lesions.

    The results provide the "first clear evidence that we can reduce skin cancers using a simple vitamin, together with sensible sun protection," said Diona Damian, MBBS, PhD, of the University of Sydney.

    A variety of mechanisms of action explain why niacinamide is a strong ally in the struggle to combat common skin diseases, including skin cancer, as well as the ongoing battle against skin aging. Niacinamide is a powerful anti-inflammatory, and the role it plays in fighting inflammation may be attributed to some of the following mechanisms.

    Inhibition of: leukocyte response in immune reactions, lysosomal enzyme release, transformation of lymphocytes from benign to malignant, inflammatory reaction to presence of Propionibacterium acnes, and release of amines including histamine or serotonin that cause blood vessel dilation. Other possible anti-inflammatory effects may come from suppression of vascular permeability and inflammatory cell accumulation, decreased sebum production and protection against DNA damage.

    The results of this study also open new avenues of research in B vitamins. The powerful anti-inflammatory action of B3 in conjunction with B5 to regulate sebum is an effective anti-acne treatment—making it possible to address the problem of severe acne without resorting to tretinoin or Accutane. We also know that the key biochemical process known as methylation, which governs proper function of virtually all the body’s systems, runs smoothly only when the supply of B vitamins is adequate.

    I remember Adelle Davis and her admonition that true health could not be achieved without sufficient B vitamin intake. Excellent skin health probably requires adding topical supplements to the supplements we take internally. To that end, read on for a few products I see gracing skin care in the future.

    Sunscreens containing high percentages of antioxidants and anti-inflammatories in conjunction with conventional sun-blocking agents. The best sun-blocking agent is, in my mind, zinc oxide. These sunscreens can be applied at night to curtail chemiexcitation-type DNA damage that goes on even after the UV source is removed.

    Expansion of the daily multivitamin routine to include topical supplements. Topical supplements will be supplied by therapeutic serums. The topical multivitamin serums can be used to protect against sun damage, repair existing damage and delay signs of aging.

    Therapeutic serums that treat acne, rosacea and other inflammatory skin diseases via delivery of the appropriate vitamins and minerals. We’ll see combinations of vitamins like B3 and B5 in addition to the tried-and-true antioxidants.

    Serums that also contain sources of endogenous antioxidants. 
They make all the difference. They are, I believe, skin care’s missing link—an important subject I’m saving for future posts.

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