Cancer risk with UV nail lamps?

The use of UV lamps for manicures would have carcinogenic effects, according to an American study. The results must be confirmed, but caution for fans of semi-permanent varnish or gel nails.

  Cancer risk with UV nail lamps?

The lampes UV used during a manicure to dry and set semi-permanent nail polish or to consolidate the application of gel nails would have potentially carcinogenic effects , reveal researchers from the University of California, San Diego in a study published in the journal Nature on January 17, 2023. Specifically, long-term use of ultraviolet (UV) light may increase the risk of developing a skin cancer . Note that these lamps are found in beauty salons or are sold for home use.

Cell viability as a function of UV exposure time

What is the risk of skin cancer with UV lamps?

To assess the toxic effect of UV lamp irradiation, three types of cells were required. Mouse embryonic fibroblasts (cells of the connective tissue : MEF in right graph), human foreskin fibroblasts (HFF in right graph) and adult human epidermal keratinocytes (skin cells: HEKa in right graph) were exposed in several distinct conditions. Each cell line was irradiated one, two or three times, with a duration of each exposure varying between 0 and 20 minutes (in most manicures nails are irradiated for up to 10 minutes in total with a UV lamp). Upon completion of the irradiations, the researchers demonstrated that the radiation emitted from the UV nail polish dryers had both damaged the dna and engraved permanent mutations in the genomes of connective tissue cells and skin (epidermal keratinocytes, i.e. the superficial layer of the skin). The same mechanism than that seen in human skin cancer.

Single 20 minute irradiation caused the cell death of 20-30%

Three consecutive 20-minute exposures (one 20-minute session per day for 3 days) caused between 65% and 70% cell death

' When we first started researching this, we noticed a number of reports in medical journals that people who get gel manicures very frequently - such as pageant contestants and beauticians - had reported cases of cancers in the fingers , suggesting that it could be something that causes this type of cancer ', says Ludmil Alexandrov, professor of bioengineering and cellular and molecular medicine at the University of San Diego, who participated in the study.

While these preliminary results may be worrying, a long-term epidemiological study is necessary before claiming that the use of these machines leads to an increased risk of skin cancers. Indeed, to date, no experimental evaluations have been conducted to reveal the effect of radiation emitted from UV nail polish dryers on mammalian cells such as humans. Furthermore, it should assess the frequency of exposure from which the carcinogenic effects are observed.

DNA damage and somatic mutations in mammalian cells after irradiation with a nail polish dryer, Revue Nature, 17 January 2023.