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Last Updated: 04/23/2014 17:12 PST

Why Nail Salons Raise Your Skin Cancer Risk!

Been to the nail salon lately? Turns out getting a French manicure here could raise your risk of skin cancer later in life, according to a new study in the journal JAMA Dermatology.

Led by author Dr. Lyndsay Shipp from Georgia Regents University in Augusta, their study shows that ultraviolet lamps found in nail salons, which are commonly used to dry and cure nail polish, also cause damage to skin cells, raising the risk of skin cancer.

“While we’re starting to realize these UV nail lamps are relatively safe, we still need to realize that the artificial UV devices that are hazardous are tanning beds,” says Dr. Alina Markova of the Boston University Department of Dermatology. “It’s also important to note that DNA damage doesn’t mean the person will develop cancer.”

Still, Markova doesn’t deny that risk is still there–despite being a minute amount. But for those who are self-professed “nail art” addicts, vising the nail salon several times a month could potentially put them at risk of skin cancer.

“Considering the low UVA energy exposure in an average manicure visit, multiple visits would be required to reach the threshold for potential DNA damage [that could increase the risk of cancer],” says Shipp. “[However] prior studies into the use of UV-emitting nail polish drying lamps have not had sufficient rigor to come to any reliable conclusions.”

The Study

Led by Shipp, researchers wanted to investigate a long held question by the scientific community: Could ultraviolet lamps in nail salons cause cancer? To find out if this was true, Shipp’s team investigated ultraviolet lamps in 16 nail salons in the United states.

First, they measured the exposure of UVA rays at different curing settings–and then looked at if it the rays were strong enough to alter the DNA of skin cells, something that precedes cancer.

“First of all, they said, 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,” says E.J. Mundell, a contributor to HealthDay. “Overall, a single nail polish drying session under one of the lamps would not expose a person to a potentially cancer-causing amount of UVA light.”

However, the authors note that “numerous exposures” to UVA light in nail salons–something only true nail addicts would do–could slightly raise a person’s skin cancer risk. The number of visits needed to create such a risk may even be too high for regular nail salon goers, however, say researchers. They say even the strongest lamps would require 24 uses to create a cancer risk; the weakest ones would require 625 visits.

Still, it’s worth the worry.

“[This study] exposed an issue that needs to be addressed–that there is little to no regulation on the manufacturing of these nail lamps,” says Dr. Chris Adigun, an assistant professor of dermatology at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City. “There are reports of nonmelanoma skin cancers on the hands after UV nail lamp exposure. What this article addresses is the lack of regulation of these lamps, leading to potentially varied malignancy risk from lamp to lamp and salon to salon.”

What To Do

If you’re not willing to drop your nail salon habit, researchers recommend lathering on some sunscreen before getting a manicure. This alone will eliminate your cancer risk.



 


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