New Study Raises Concerns about the Safety of UV Nail Dryers
Ultraviolet (UV) nail polish dryers are a common sight at salons nationwide, but a new study published in the journal Nature Communications has raised concerns about their safety. The study found that UV nail dryers may cause DNA damage and cellular mutations, potentially increasing the risk of skin cancer.
The study exposed cells from humans and mice to UV light, finding that a 20-minute session led to 20-30% cell death, while three consecutive exposures caused 65-70% of the exposed cells to die. Additionally, UV exposure caused mitochondrial and DNA damage in the remaining cells, resulting in mutations with patterns that have been observed in skin cancer in humans.
“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, the study’s co-author and a professor of bioengineering as well as cellular and molecular medicine.
The devices use a particular spectrum of UV light (340-395nm) to cure the chemicals used in gel manicures. Studies have conclusively demonstrated that tanning beds emit a spectrum of UV light (280-400nm) which is carcinogenic; however, the spectrum utilized by nail dryers has not been extensively studied.
The evidence from human cells, combined with a number of cases of cancer in individuals who receive gel manicures regularly, implies that this beauty treatment could be more dangerous than initially assumed. Is a yearly gel manicure truly something to be concerned about, or should it only be a cause for alarm for those who get them done frequently? More research is necessary to determine if there is an increased risk of cancer associated with this cosmetic procedure and how often it must be done to pose a danger. However, since there are numerous other options available, some individuals may decide that the potential hazard is not worth it.
It is noteworthy that other consumer products make use of UV light in the same wavelength range, such as the device used to set dental fillings and certain hair removal procedures. However, the regularity of use, plus the entirely cosmetic nature of nail dryers, sets them apart. 
Zhivagui, Alexandrov and their colleagues state that it is probable that research of this type will require at least a decade to be completed and then made known to the general public. Until then, people should be aware of the potential risks of UV nail dryers and consider alternative forms of nail care.
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