Cascade Eye & Skin Centers Blog

Did you know that supplements are available to help prevent skin cancer?« Back


Niacinamide (synonym Nicotinamide) and Niacin (synonym Nicotinic Acid) are both forms of vitamin B3 which is essential for many processes in the body. We get these vitamins naturally from a well-balanced diet that includes legumes, cereals, meat, fish, eggs, milk and yeast. Niacin can cause flushing symptoms that is at times bothersome to patients, but Niacinamide does not have this side effect. It has activity in preventing UV-induced cell changes that can cause skin pre-cancers and cancers. A recent study in Australia found a 23% reduction in the number of SCCs and BCCs in the skin after a year of therapy with Niacinamide 500mg twice daily. The effects were greatest in those patients with a history of higher numbers of these skin cancers.

Your dermatologist feels this might be a good supplement for you. This therapy in not FDA approved and further studies are on-going. It is purchased as an over the counter supplement. Rarely, elevation in liver enzymes occurred at a very high dose (8gm/day), so if you have any liver problems or take many medications, just check with your primary care physician prior to starting this supplement. has a multiple brands, two called Biophix and NOW have been taken by patients without problems. Be sure to purchase Niacinamide and not Niacin, also it is recommended that you do not purchase multiple ingredient supplements for this (ie combination of different vitamins) as you might not get the right dose.

Polypodium leucotomas

Polypodium leucotomas (brand name is Heliocare) is an extract of a fern that has been shown to reduce UV-mediated DNA damage in cells exposed to UVB (portion of light causing sunburns). In real-life terms, it will minimize/prevent sunburns and may decrease risk of skin cancers. It is also helpful in conditions where the sunlight causes a rash (PMLE). Studies have shown that it is a safe supplement, and the recommended usual dose is 240mg twice daily or 30 minutes prior to sun exposure. Keep in mind the effects do not last all day should be taken again in 3-4 hours if you are in the sun all day. This supplement should not be considered the only protection but rather extra protection to add to sunscreen and/or sun protective clothing.

Other supplements containing polypodium leucotomas are available, but have not been as well-studied. Capsules are Gluten-free.


Heliocare is available on Amazon for $27.99 for 60 capsules and at some drug stores.
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