-- E.J. Mundell
WEDNESDAY, April 30, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- A typical salon
manicure involves drying freshly painted nails under a lamp that
emits ultraviolet-A (UV-A) rays -- a spectrum of light long linked
to skin cancers.
But a new study suggests that the average visit to a nail salon
carries little carcinogenic potential.
"Considering the low UV-A energy exposure in an average manicure visit, multiple visits would be required to reach the threshold for potential DNA damage" that might spur cancer, wrote a team reporting their findings April 30 in JAMA Dermatology.
In the study, researchers led by Dr. Lyndsay Shipp of the
department of dermatology at Georgia Regents University, in
Augusta, say that prior studies into the use of UV-emitting nail
polish drying lamps have not had sufficient rigor to come to any
In their study, Shipp's team used high-tech meters to measure
the UV-A light exposures upon hands held in various positions under
17 different types of drying lamps. The researchers conducted the
study at 16 nail salons.
First of all, they said, there were "notable differences" in the
amount of UV-A light emitted by the various devices, and the amount
of exposure to the hands also varied depending on the positioning
of the device.
Overall, a single nail polish drying session under one of the
lamps would not expose a person to a potentially cancer-causing
amount of UV-A light, Shipp's team said, and "even with numerous
exposures, the risk for carcinogenesis remains small."
Still, they say they agree with the authors of prior studies
that precautions should be taken, including the use of sunscreens
on the hands or UV-A protective gloves to limit both cancer risk
and premature aging of the skin.
Dr. Chris Adigun is assistant professor of dermatology at NYU
Langone Medical Center in New York City. She agreed that clients
should wear some form of UV protection when using salon drying
She also believes that the study has "exposed an issue that
needs to be addressed -- that there is little to no regulation on
the manufacturing of these nail lamps."
"As a result," Adigun said, "the bulbs, wattage and irradiance of these lamps varies dramatically from one manufacturer to the next, and individuals utilizing these lamps in salons have no way of knowing just how much UV exposure their skin is receiving upon each manicure."
Even though the study found the overall risk of skin cancer from
UV lamps to be low, "there are reports of nonmelanoma skin cancers
on the hands after UV nail lamp exposure," she added. "What this
article addresses is the lack of regulation of these lamps, leading
to potentially varied malignancy risk from lamp to lamp and salon
There's more on preventing skin cancer at the
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and
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