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Ultraviolet nail polish dryers at salons increase risk of #cancer, claims study.

UV drying lamps, which are frequently used for gel manicures, can alter cells in ways that can lead to cancer, according to a new study conducted by researchers from the University of California.

The equipment, which is widely used in nail salons, cures the chemicals used in gel manicures using a specific UV light spectrum (340-395nm). The study was earlier published in the science journal, Nature. These UV light-emitting devices pose a greater threat to public health than perceived, according to the research.

“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,” said Ludmil Alexandrov, a professor of bioengineering at the university and author of the study.

The researchers looked at three cell lines: human skin keratinocytes, human foreskin fibroblasts, and mouse embryonic fibroblasts. According to the research, a single 20-minute UV light exposure session killed 20 per cent to 30 per cent of exposed cells, while three similar exposures resulted in cell death at a rate of 65-70 per cent. The remaining cells also suffered DNA damage and mutations, which strangely resembled skin cancer. They were not immune to harm either.

“We saw multiple things: first, 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,” Alexandrov added.

“Lastly, we saw that exposure may cause mitochondrial dysfunction, which may also result in additional mutations. We looked at patients with skin cancers, and we see the exact same patterns of mutations in these patients that were seen in the irradiated cells,” he continued.

Although the researchers noted that more research was required to determine the UV lamps’ long-term effects, their findings were startling enough to convince co-author Maria Zhivagui to stop her addiction to gel polish. “When I was doing my PhD, I started hearing about gel manicures, which last longer than normal polish. I was interested in trying out gel nail polish, particularly in the setting of working in an experimental lab where I frequently put gloves on and off, to maintain a presentable appearance,” she stated.

Zhivagui claimed that she made the decision to completely stop using the gadget. “So I started using gel manicures periodically for several years. Once I saw the effect of radiation emitted by the gel polish drying device on cell death and that it actually mutates cells even after just one 20-minute session, I was surprised. I found this to be very alarming, and decided to stop using it.”