Why Vitamin B3?
Did you know that even sun exposure that does not result in sunburn can cause DNA damage in the skin? As little as one third of your sunburn threshold is required to induce scientifically measurable damage. Unrepaired DNA damage weakens your skin’s immune system. When your skin’s immune system is suppressed, it is less able to combat the formation of new cancer cells. The reality is then, that even moderate sun exposure can lead to the following chain of events:
DNA damage -> Suppressed immune response -> formation of skin cancer
The greater the level of inflammation (loosely, “sunburn”), the more likely that skin cancer cells will form.
Topical vitamin B3 cream, in the form of nicotinamide (also known as niacinamide), counters the chain of events that lead to skin cancer formation (carcinogenesis). You can think of nicotinamide as an energy booster for your skin’s cells. When your DNA is damaged by sun exposure, it takes a great deal of energy to repair that damage. This leaves the cell in a weakened condition, less able to fight of cancer formation. Nicotinamide replenishes cellular energy, which in turn strengthens the skin’s immune response and thus assists the skin in both repairing damage and fighting off skin cancer.
In addition to its energy boosting effects, nicotinamide is an anti-inflammatory agent. The lower the levels of inflammation in your skin, the less likely it is that cancer will form. But the benefits don’t end there. Nicotinamide also improves the functioning of your skin barrier, allowing your skin to retain valuable moisture. Since nicotinamide reduces redness and increases hydration, it is the perfect cream to apply post sun exposure, and particularly in the event of sunburn. It is important to understand that nicotinamide does not act as a sunscreen, however. It will not prevent your skin from burning. What it will do, is provide your skin with the energy it needs to repair from sun damage.
Nicotinamide has also be shown to have an anti-ageing effect in fibroblasts – cells key in maintaining your skin’s smoothness, elasticity and suppleness. Fibroblasts grown alongside nicotinamide are both more resistant to damage and display slower rates of telomere shortening. Telomere shortening is a primary indicator of cellular ageing.
Will using nicotinamide cream prevent all skin cancer formation? Unfortunately, no, we cannot go that far. Whilst clinical studies of nicotinamide therapy to date have largely been encouraging in showing a decreased incidence of non-melanoma skin cancers, much more work still needs to be done. What we can say in the meantime, however, is that daily application of nicotinamide cream, particularly post sun exposure, stands as one of the most scientifically sensible things you can do for your skin’s overall health.