Gel manicure safety: What to know about UV nail dryers and cancer risk A new study finds that UV dryers for gel nail polish can damage DNA and mutate cells, confirming dermatologists' safety concerns. There are precautions you can take and alternatives to consider.

UV nail dryers may pose cancer risks, a study says. Here are precautions you can take

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I love a gel manicure. It doesn't smudge when you search for your keys, do the dishes. But now there are questions about how safe the UV lamp used to dry the polish actually is.


Researchers from UC San Diego and the University of Pittsburgh looked into gel manicures. And here's how they did it. They put cell samples from mice and humans under one of those UV dryers.

SHARI LIPNER: The changes that were seen in the cells are similar to what would be seen in skin cancer in a person.

INSKEEP: After frequent exposure to the light, many cells in the samples died or had damaged DNA.

FADEL: Now, the FDA says UV nail curing lamps are, quote, "low risk" when used as directed. But Shari Lipner, a dermatologist at Weill Cornell Medicine, says the new study seems to confirm what some doctors worried about for years.

LIPNER: In light of this study, I think it should convince people even more to use caution.

INSKEEP: That means following doctor's recommendations for using sunscreen and wearing fingerless gloves when you're under a UV drier or thinking about cutting back or stopping gel manicures altogether. Sorry, Leila.

FADEL: No. OK. Maria Zhivagui, who led the study, says when she saw the data on DNA damage, she decided to kick her own gel manicure habit.

MARIA ZHIVAGUI: It was very alarming and surprising for me because I did not expect that much effect.

INSKEEP: And Zhivagui says she will not get much more use from the UV dryer she has at home.

ZHIVAGUI: Probably one day, I will dry the glue on the floor or something.

INSKEEP: Until then, it stays in the drawer.

FADEL: Dermatologist Shari Lipner recommends routine checkups for skin cancer as a good habit for those that are sticking with the gel manicure.


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