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Nail Salon Lamps Linked to Skin Cancer Risk in as Few as 8 Visits

Image: Nail Salon Lamps Linked to Skin Cancer Risk in as Few as 8 Visits

By Nick Sanchez   |   Thursday, 01 May 2014 12:04 PM

Nail salon lamps used for curing some gel-based polishes have been linked to skin cancer risk in as few as eight visits, a new study shows.

The New York Times reports that the findings were published in the JAMA Dermatology journal by researchers from Georgia Regents University in Augusta, who took 17 common nail lamps from salons to measure the amount of ultraviolet (UV) rays emitted by them.

Lead researcher Dr. Lyndsay Shipp said prior studies on the lamps didn't reach any reliable conclusions. The study led by Shipp, however determined that, "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."

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Just how many visits? That depends on the amount of UV emitted by the lamp, the team concluded. That amount, they said, was found to vary widely from lamp to lamp.

Measured in joules per centimeter squared, some lamps emitted as little as one while others emitted eight.

"There is a vast range in the amount of light coming out of these devices," ranging from "barely" to "significant," said Shipp.

The study itself reads, "risk from multiple manicure visits remains untested," however, "even with numerous exposures, the risk for carcinogenesis remains small."

Skin cancer is generally known to occur in people who've been exposed to 60 joules per centimeter squared — the level at which UV damages DNA — and none of the lamps came close to that level. Small exposures over time can add up, however, and the study's researchers calculated that eight to 14 visits over the course of 24 to 42 months would technically reach the cancer-risk threshold.

"There is a theoretical risk, but it’s very low," Shipp explained, noting that she occasionally use the lamps herself. "[Y]ou can get that amount of exposure when driving down the road in your car."

Anyone concerned about the risk who would still like to use the lamps were advised to use sunscreen on their hands, or wear gloves with the tips cut off.

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