Study Backs Safety of UV Lamps


UV lamps commonly used for drying nail polish are safe and do not increase one's risk of getting skin cancer, according to a new study conducted by The Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

There has been a recent Internet and media debate over the use of UV lamps, suggesting such lamps may be unsafe and a direct cause of keratinocyte carcinoma, a type of skin cancer. However, based on these results, researchers in this study concluded that nail lamps do not significantly increase the risk of getting skin cancer.

As part of its study, The Journal of Investigative Dermatology compared the UV rays emitted from three popular brands of nail lamps to low-risk phototherapy devices used in dermatology treatments (each dermatology treatment consists of 15–30 sessions). Researchers found that a salon client would need about 250 years of weekly manicures that involve the use of UV nail lights to develop the same risk of exposure as just one round of phototherapy sessions used to treat various skin conditions.

Lighting Sciences, a research company based in Phoenix, conducted a similar study in 2010. The study was authored by co-chair of PBA's Nail Manufacturers Council on Safety, Doug Schoon, Paul Bryson and Jim McConnell, and addressed a potential cause-and-effect relationship between nail lamps and skin cancer. In trying to connect nail lamp use to carcinogenic lesions, the study compared UV rays from sunlight to the UV rays from nail lamps. This comparison, according to the study from The Journal of Investigative Dermatology, was not the most reliable as they believe UV rays emitted from nail lamps and those from the sun do not have the same kind of UV emission, and thus should not be compared in the same fashion.

"Comparing UV nail lamps to sunlight isn't comparing apples to apples, because sunlight is more dangerous than UV nail lamps. The reason we made this comparison was so that people could better understand the very low risks associated with the use of UV nail lamps," stated Schoon.

Even so, both studies concluded that UV nail lamps do not significantly increase the risk of developing skin cancer. Photobiologist and creator of the SPF system, Robert Sayre, has further investigated  a possible connection between nail lamps and cancer. Sayre has similarly stated that the use of UV nail lamps does not contribute to the risk of getting skin cancer and that the emissions from UV nail lamps are safer than that of natural sunlight. 

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