UV dryer lamps in High Street nail salons could cause skin cancer, scientists warn as studies show they could damage skin in a similar way to sunbeds
Ultraviolet lamps in High Street nail bars could pose a skin cancer risk, fear scientists.
The lamps, which help to harden some types of nail polish gel called shellac, might damage skin in a similar way to sunbeds, say researchers at University of California San Diego and University of Pittsburgh.
In a series of laboratory studies, they found a high proportion of skin cells repeatedly exposed to the light emitted by these lamps died.
Cells that did survive showed signs of damage, including to DNA, which can increase the risk of skin cancer.
Ultraviolet lamps in High Street nail bars could pose a skin cancer risk, fear scientists
Writing in the journal Nature Communications, the study authors warned: ‘Our experimental results … strongly suggest that radiation emitted by UV nail polish dryers may cause cancers of the hand.’
They added: ‘UV nail polish dryers, similar to tanning beds, may increase the risk of early-onset skin cancer.’ However, they cautioned that the study ‘does not provide direct evidence for an increased cancer risk in humans’.
They called for long term analysis, comparing rates of hand skin cancers among those who regularly use nail bars to rates in those who do not. This would take ‘at least a decade to complete’, they said.
There has been growing anxiety over nail bars. ‘Anti UV gloves’ which leave just the fingernails exposed can now be bought online.
In a series of lab studies, they found a high proportion of skin cells repeatedly exposed to the light in these lamps died
US influencer Kourtney Kardashian – Kim’s older sister –has said she does not use UV driers because they ‘can age the skin with brown spots and wrinkles’.
Last night the nail bar industry poured scorn on the new findings.
Doug Schoon, of the US’s Nail Manufacturing Council, a chemist by training, called the study ‘a biased and unfair attack’.
He said the reasearchers used a very high-powered UV lamp and exposed cultured skin cells for far too long – 20 minutes a day for three consecutive days.
He added customers typically hold a hand under a lamp for three minutes during a nail bar session. Most go a couple of times a month.
A dangerous online trend has emerged which is glamorising the use of sunbeds years after they were banned in commercial premises because of links to skin cancer
‘I can guarantee results would be much different if they used three one-minute exposures. It appears their agenda is to make all UV nail lamps look dangerous,’ he said.
‘For over 20 years millions have regularly used these lamps, so they have a long history of safe use.
‘The bulk of scientific evidence demonstrates that UV nail lamps are safe, when used properly.’
One reason why it is unlikely nail bar UV lamps might carry the same risk as sunbeds is because the light they produce is different.
Sunbeds emit UV with a broader spectrum of wavelengths, comprising both longer-wavelength UVA (315 to 400 nanometres) and shorter-wave UVB (280 to 315 nanometre). Nail bar lamps tend to produce only UVA.
UVB is more ‘energetic’ and is the main cause of sunburn, but does not penetrate below the top of the skin. By contrast UVA is less energetic but penetrates deeper.
Over-exposure to both can cause skin damage and skin cancer.
Previous studies have found no link between frequent nail bars use and skin cancers.
However, none of these were the sort of rigorous long-term study – following individuals over many years – advocated by scientists in the latest research.
Its lead author Ludmil Alex-androv believes there is cause for concern, adding that before their work there was ‘zero molecular understanding of what these devices were doing to human cells’.