Can Nail Salons Cause…Cancer?

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    Nail drying lampWhat’s not to love about a fresh, long-lasting gel/no-chip manicure or pedicure, right?

    You may need to rethink this – important new research says getting too many of them may hurt your health.

    According to a new study, constant use of nail drying lamps that emit ultraviolet-A (UV-A) rays exposes your skin to a “spectrum of light long linked to skin cancers.”

    “Considering the low UV-A energy exposure in an average manicure visit, multiple visits would be required to reach the threshold for potential DNA damage” that might spur cancer, wrote a team reporting their findings April 30 in JAMA Dermatology.

    In the study, researchers led by Dr. Lyndsay Shipp of the department of dermatology at Georgia Regents University, used high-tech meters to measure the UV-A light exposures upon hands held in various positions under 17 different types of drying lamps. The researchers conducted the study at 16 nail salons.

    The researchers said that the occasional use of nail drying lamps seemed to involve minimal risk. However, they also found that there were “notable differences” in the amount of UV-A light emitted by the various devices, and the amount of exposure to the hands also varied depending on the positioning of the device.

    This is not the first study to look at nail drying lamps. Among others, a 2009 study in the Archives of Dermatology associated frequent nail salon visits to cases of non-melanoma skin cancer.

    Dermatologists also said that studies like this bring to light another concerning issue – the troubling lack of regulation regarding nail lamps, which has led to huge differences in bulbs, wattage and irradiance between lamps, to the point where salons may be unaware that they’re potentially exposing their clients to dangerous UV rays.

    Experts agree that precautions should be taken to help limit cancer risk:

    • Apply sunscreen on your hands before using drying lamps.
    • Limit the use of drying lamps whenever possible, such as only using drying lamps every other month.


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