Gel nail polish lamps linked to cancer and DNA damage, study says

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – Gel nail polish lamps frequently used at nail salons have been linked to DNA damage and cancer-causing cell mutations, according to multiple media reports citing recent research.

The research, conducted by the University of California in San Diego, warns anyone who enjoys gel manicures to use the research’s conclusions cautiously and think before they get their next manicure.

Researchers have linked ultraviolet lamps — used to cure and dry gel nail polish — to skin cancer, cell death, and damaging DNA, the report says.

Ultraviolet lights and its connection to skin cancer are not new.

Indoor tanning beds have been linked to premature aging, which also falls within the same wavelength of radiation found in lamps at nail salons, according to the report.

The type of radiation from ultraviolet lights is a type of electromagnetic radiation that affects the skin in various ways, depending on its specific wavelength.

The report found the most dangerous lighting on the spectrum comes from UVA light, which is found in sunlamps, indoor tanning beds, and nail polish dryers.

Researchers from UC San Diego stated that UVA is found in slight, but that “most of UVA environmental toxicity has been attributed to the use of commercial products, such as tanning beds.”

The American Academy of Dermatology Association stated that ultraviolet lighting is seen as a “carcinogen,” which leads to skin cancers such as melanoma, premature aging, and eye damage.

The study found that UV nail lamps emit wavelengths between 340 and 395 nanometers, which is one of the most dangerous on the radiation spectrum, the report says.

Professor Ludmil Alexandrov, from UC San Diego and author of the study, told NBC when the research was conducted “we saw that DNA gets damaged.”

“We also saw that some of the DNA damage does not get repaired over time, and it does lead to mutations after every exposure with a UV nail polish dryer. Lastly, we saw that exposure may cause mitochondrial dysfunction, which may also result in additional mutations,” said Alexandrov.

While the research is not explicitly telling individuals to stop getting a gel manicure, more studies still have to be done in order to have a “more accurate assessment of the risk.”

Alexandrov said the cosmetic devices are commonly marketed as safe to use and that this is the first time the potential risk has been studied.

The Skin Cancer Foundation suggests those who are looking to get a gel manicure wear a UVA/UVB sunscreen on their hands to protect themselves, the report says.

The report also states that sunscreen will not eliminate the risk of sublingual squamous cell carcinoma, which can appear under the nail.

To read the entire UC San Diego study, click here.

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