UV Nail Polish Dryers Linked to Skin Cancer and DNA Damage

by Xara Aziz

Ladies, you may want to reconsider how you finish off your bi-weekly manicures after a new report has just revealed that those cute little lamps your nail tech uses to dry your nail polish could cause skin cancer and kill the DNA in your hands.

Researchers at the University of California San Diego and the University of Pittsburgh co-authored a study finding that the UV light in the mini tan bed-looking lamps emit high levels of radiation, which is used to dry wet nail polish in minutes.

Bioengineer and lead author Ludmil Alexandrov said that before the study “there was zero molecular understanding of what these devices were doing to human cells.”

But further digging found that the UV light from nail lamps increase the likelihood of damage to the DNA of human cells.

The scientists tested their theory by placing both mice and human cells in a petri dish, then placed them inside a nail polish dryer for two 20-minutes sessions. They found that after the sessions, 20-30 percent of the cells died.

The study further revealed that conducting the same experiment three days back-to-back resulted in up to 70% of the cells killed. The researchers do note that the study was extreme – in order to see the results within a designated time frame. Of the cells that survived, they saw severe signs of DNA damage and mutations linked to cancer.

“While these results do not provide direct evidence of increased cancer risk, they do indicate an appreciable level of risk could be present. Exactly how often someone needs to visit a nail salon to put themselves in danger’s way remains to be determined,” reads a report from Science Alert.

Furthermore, the researchers are calling on further testing to “assess whether the mechanisms uncovered by the test translate into actual harm.”

Maria Zhivagui, the first author of the study, said she was so shocked by the results she has stopped getting gel manicures.

“Once I saw the effect of radiation emitted by the gel polish drying device on cell death and that it actually mutates cells even after just one 20-minute session, I was surprised,” she said.

She recommended gel nail polish lovers be careful, but also stated that developing cancer on the hands from UV nail lamps “seems to be very low at a population level,” especially “those under the age of 65,” while some researchers have interpreted these findings to mean that “gel manicures have little to no carcinogenic risk.”

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