Study Finds UV Nail Lamps Can Cause DNA Mutations

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It’s been suggested in the past that UV lamps used at the nail salon to cure acrylic or gel nails may not be safe for long-term use. Prior studies noted that long-term use of UV-nail polish lamps may increase the risk for developing skin cancer, but there hasn’t been a concrete study done to determine the long-term effects from the radiation emitted. However, findings from a new study published in Nature Communications show that frequent exposure to UV nail lamps can cause damage to your DNA after frequent use.

Using both human and mouse cells, researchers from the University of California San Diego and the University of Pittsburgh found that UV light from the lamps cause mutations and damage to the cells. During the study, mice and human cells were placed in UV lamp dryers at different intervals. The first group of cells were placed in the dryer for two 20-minutes sessions with an hour break in between. In that scenario, about 20 to 30 percent of the cells died. The second group of cells were exposed for 20 minutes a day for three consecutive days and about 70 percent of those cells died.

The bad news for the remaining cells is that after UV exposure they showed signs of DNA damage and mutations linked to skin cancer. While the scenarios used in the study are more extreme than the time we’d normally spend with our nails and fingers under the lamps, researchers feel the link is strong enough to serve as a warning.

“Our experimental results and the prior evidence strongly suggest that radiation emitted by UV-nail polish dryers may cause cancers of the hand and that UV-nail polish dryers, similar to tanning beds, may increase the risk of early-onset skin cancer,” the researchers wrote. They also stress that more studies are needed before they can conclusively say these UV devices can lead to an increased risk of skin cancer. “It is likely that such studies will take at least a decade to complete and to subsequently inform the general public,” noted the authors.

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