Do UV nail polish dryers cause cancer?

By January 26, 2023 Health, Science

An article published in the online magazine, People, claims that using ultraviolet (UV) nail polish dryers can lead to cancer-causing cell mutations.

In support of its claim, the article cites a recent study titled “DNA damage and somatic mutations in mammalian cells after irradiation with a nail polish dryer”, published in Nature Communications Journal (“the study”).

The study examines the impact of the long-term use of UV nail polish dryers, commonly used in nail salons to “cure and dry nail polish formulas, known as gels, [which require] exposure to UV radiation to harden into polymers”, on cells obtained from mammals.

UV rays and skin cancer

It has been established that prolonged exposure to UV rays may cause skin cancer without the necessary safeguards such as using sunscreen.

UV nail polish dryers mainly emit UVA rays, which are a form of UV rays that have been previously linked to some skin cancers.


DNA damage from exposure to UV nail polish dryers

The study on DNA damage and cell mutations was carried out on human and rodent cells. Among others, it found that across all cells, exposure to the UV lamp for 20 minutes resulted in 20–30% cell death.

It also observed that radiation emitted by UV nail polish dryers causes cell mutations similar to that caused by skin cancer, thereby suggesting that it could lead to cancer.

Limitations of the study

However, the study emphasized that it does have limitations. For instance, the cells were missing the top layer of human skin which might affect cell mutations.

Moreover, the study does highlight that “it does not provide direct evidence for an increased cancer risk in human beings” thus necessitating further studies to accurately measure the prospect of UV nail polish dryers causing skin cancer of the hand, in people using them to dry their nails.

Other studies on this topic

A prior study by the Medical College of Georgia, United States on DNA damage from the use of UV nail lamps found that the risk of suffering skin cancer is low. However, as a precaution, they recommend using a broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 30 and UVA protective fingerless gloves when a nail polish dryer is being used on oneself.

Furthermore, another study failed to find conclusive evidence but has also highlighted the need for further studies on the potential carcinogenic risk of UV nail polish dryers.

While these studies were not carried out on cells, further research and studies are necessary to conclude if regular use of UV nail polish dryers will lead to skin cancer.

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