Study Finds Potential Link Between UV Nail Polish Dryers And Skin Cancer

Many thousands of people enjoy getting manicures on a semi-regular basis. It’s a relatively cheap and easy way to feel pampered, and if you look good, you feel good, right?

Since gel manicures have become more popular for their long-lasting polish, more and more people are sticking their fingertips into those UV dryers to set the gel and be able to get out the door with a perfect manicure in record time.

Image Credit: iStock

No one has really made sure they’re safe, though, and it turns out they might not be at all.

A recent study has found that those dryers, used to cure gel manicures, could be damaging the DNA in our hands. That damage can also cause mutations.

Some spectrums of UV rays are known to be carcinogenic, though previously there has been no research onto their effects on mammalian cells, and author Ludmil Alexandrov says it’s time that changed.

“If you look at the way these devices are presented, they are marketed as safe, with nothing to be concerned about. But to the best of our knowledge, no one has actually studied these devices and how they affect human cells at the molecular and cellular levels until now.”

And after exposing both human and mouse cels to the UV emitted from the drying devices, researchers found both mitochondrial and DNA damage, along with cell death.

The tissue was exposed for 20 minutes, then left out in the open for an hour before a second 20 minute exposure, after which 20-30% of the cells had died.

Image Credit: iStock

2o-minute sessions every day for three consecutive days led to 65-70% cell death.

This is considerably more exposure than a person would get during a regular manicure; about 10 minutes to dry is average.

That said, the damage that occurred was not always repaired, which resulted in mutations like those seen in many human skin cancers.

The study notes that there have been reports of elevated instances of rare finger cancers in people like pageant contestants and estheticians, who are regularly exposed to the lights.

The authors are quick to note that they have not yet proven any direct correlation between manicures and cancer.

“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.”

That said, they do believe there is reason to be cautious.

Image Credit: iStock

“Nevertheless, future large-scale epidemiological studies are warranted to accurately quantify the risk for skin cancer of the hand in people regularly using UV-nail polish dryers. It is likely that such studies will take at least a decade to complete and to subsequently inform the general public.”

Now that you know this question remains up in the air, it’s up to you to make the call on if or how often you’re willing to risk it.

One more simple pleasure that might not be so simple after all. Sigh.