New study sparks controversy by assessing the risk of frequent nail care!
Ultraviolet (UV) rays are known to cause skin cancer when exposed to extremes, but very little research has been done on the safety of lamps used to dry nail polish in beauty salons.
A new study by researchers at the University of California San Diego and the University of Pittsburgh in the US has found evidence of the damage this source of radiation can do to our hands.
And the LED nail dryers look like mini hand tanning beds. UV light is used to quickly and cleanly cure and dry some types of nail polish.
The lamp in the LED nail polish dryer is less intense and has a different UV spectrum, but the few rays it emits still easily penetrate the skin with unknown results.
And while previous research has shown little or no link between nail drying and skin cancer at the population level, the new research on the molecular side of things has some disturbing results.
Prior to the study, “there was no molecular understanding of what these devices do to human cells,” says bioengineer and lead author Ludmil Aleksandrov.
The results of the experiment show that ultraviolet light from nail lamps can damage the DNA of human and mouse cells in a similar way.
And when petrials of mouse and human cells were placed in a nail polish dryer for two 20-minute sessions (with an hour break), 20 to 30 percent of the cells died.
Meanwhile, 20 minutes of exposure per day for three consecutive days killed up to 70% of exposed cells. For one manicure session, a person puts their fingers under ultraviolet light for a total of 10 minutes. By comparison, the impact in the current study was extreme.
The cells left after the full exposure period showed signs of DNA damage and mutations associated with skin cancer.
While these results are not direct evidence of an increased risk of cancer, they do indicate that there is a tangible level of risk. It remains to be determined how often someone will need to visit a nail salon in order to put themselves in danger.
Alexandrov and his colleagues are calling for long-term epidemiological studies to assess whether the mechanisms identified by the test lead to real harm.
Maria Zhivago, a member of Alexandrov’s lab and the first author of the study, was very concerned about the results.
“When I saw the effects of the radiation from the gel polish dryer on cell death and that it really changes cells even after just one 20-minute session, I was surprised,” says Zivagoi.
For her, the potential risks outweigh the benefits. But this does not mean that everyone needs to immediately stop using gel polish.
The risk of developing hand cancer from a UV nail lamp appears to be very low at the population level among those younger than 65 years of age. Some researchers have interpreted these results to mean that “gel nail polish has no carcinogenic risk.”
But the risk to humans is something that cancer scientists have not yet dismissed.
They say worried clients should use sunscreen before getting their nails done. Either that, or they must wear gloves with finger holes.
And dermatologist Melissa Peliang of the Cleveland Clinic warned in 2021 that people who frequent nail salons are likely to face higher risks, if any.
And if someone rides several times a year, they probably have nothing to worry about. But if they go every two weeks, that might be cause for concern.
In 2009, two women developed skin cancer on their hands after being otherwise healthy, cutting their nails regularly and having no family history of skin cancer. Two case studies prompted researchers to further investigate the health risks associated with the use of nail dryers.
And in 2013, researchers confirmed that the UV dose emitted by UV nail lamps is 4.2 times stronger than that of the sun. They concluded that the high intensity exposure required further research.
Although these products are marketed as safe, the truth is that there has been very little research into their health risks and not enough case studies to prove cause and effect.
But researchers hired by the companies to test the products responded that “there is no cause for public concern.” They argued that the dose of UV radiation used in a single manicure session is by and large nothing to worry about.
The authors of the 2013 article held firm. In their published rebuttal, they indicated that, unlike other researchers, they have no conflict of interest and simply want to know the truth.
And published opinions based on observational studies have done little to improve our understanding of the health risks associated with UV lamps.
The time has come for independent epidemiological studies.
“Such studies are likely to take at least a decade to complete and will later be reported to the public,” the researchers write.
In the meantime, it is up to customers to weigh the risks and rewards.
The study is published in the journal Nature Communications.
Source: Science Alert