Here’s why dermatologists say you should stop getting gel manicures

Manicurist master is covering painting client's nails top coat shellac, hands closeup. One hand drying in UV lamp. Professional manicure with gel polish. Nail art, hands care, beauty industry concept.
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WBBM recently reported about a California woman who claimed she developed human papillomavirus-related cancer from being cut during manicure.

According to a study published last Tuesday, there may be another potential cancer risk for those who visit nail salons – the UV lamps used to cure gel manicures.

“While this report demonstrates that radiation from UV-nail polish dryers is cytotoxic, genotoxic, and mutagenic, it does not provide direct evidence for an increased cancer risk in human beings,” said the study.
However, it noted that “prior studies have shown that an increase in mutagenesis will likely lead to an increase in cancer risk.”

Per the National Cancer Institute, a mutagen is “anything that causes a mutation (a change in the DNA of a cell),” and examples include radioactive substances, x-rays and ultraviolet radiation (UV). Unlike dryers used for regular manicures, lights used to cure gel nail polish and some other materials used for manicures and nail art commonly use Ultraviolet A light.

To study the cell toxicity of UV nail polish dryers, scientists exposed mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs), human foreskin fibroblasts (HFFs), and adult human epidermal keratinocytes (HEKa) to the lights in various conditions.

“Each primary cell line was irradiated one, two, or three times, with the duration of each exposure lasting between 0 and 20 min,” the researchers said. “Cell viability was measured 48 hours after the final irradiation with each condition repeated at least three times.”

Results showed that “irradiation by a UV-nail polish dryer causes high levels of reactive oxygen species.”

According to the National Cancer Institute, reactive oxygen species are also referred to as “free radicals” and are “a type of unstable molecule that contains oxygen and that easily reacts with other molecules in a cell.”

A buildup of these molecules may cause damage to DNA, RNA and proteins. It may even cause cell death, said the institute.

Researchers said that “several anecdotal cases have demonstrated that cancers of the hand are likely due to radiation from UV-nail polish dryers in young females,” adding to the evidence that the nail dryers may be linked to cancers of the hand. They compared exposure to the nail dryers to exposure to tanning beds.

Indoor tanning can increase the risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma by 58% and basal cell carcinoma by 24%, according to the American Academy of Dermatologists Association.

“Nevertheless, future large-scale epidemiological studies are warranted to accurately quantify the risk for skin cancer of the hand in people regularly using UV-nail polish dryers,” said researchers. “It is likely that such studies will take at least a decade to complete and to subsequently inform the general public.”

Study authors stressed that there were limitations to the study and that models used for the experiments may not perfectly represent mutagenesis in human beings.

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