Study evaluates skin cancer risk from nail salon lights

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by JANET ST. JAMES

WFAA

Posted on April 30, 2014 at 5:14 PM

Updated Wednesday, Apr 30 at 6:30 PM

DALLAS — Safety is so important to Dallas nail tech Cheryl Menzel that each client has an individual box of files; tools are sanitized after each use; and ultraviolet lights to dry polish are off-limits at her Dallas salon, Gel Nails by Cheryl.

Menzel said the UV lamps are "like a tanning bed; it's bad for your nail bed, it can cause cancer."

A new study takes a closer look at the UV nail dryers to assess the risk of skin cancer from them. Previous studies haven’t taken into account the bulb wattage.

Researchers from Georgia Regents University in Augusta took a random UV light sampling of 17 units found in commercial nail salons in two geographic locations. The study — published in JAMA Dermatology — shows higher wattage UV lamps are associated with more radiation, and that "longer exposure times led to increased potential for cutaneous damage."

In some cases, DNA damage was possible in as few as eight treatments under a UV light.

The authors say while the risk for cancer overall remains small, they recommend nail clients wear sunscreen or gloves to limit the risk of cancer and photo-aging if they put their hands under the lights.

Many clients get their nails done twice monthly, increasing the potential risk over the years.

"I'd rather not have skin cancer if I can avoid it,” said Jeannine Gibbs, a nail salon client. She's glad that Cheryl Menzel has chosen to use LED lights — instead of UV ones — just in case.

E-mail jstjames@wfaa.com

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