UV Nail Lamps Do Not Significantly Up Skin Cancer Risk

UV nail sessions exposure negligible compared to one narrowband-UVB treatment

FRIDAY, Dec. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Ultraviolet (UV) nail lamps, used for professional and personal nail techniques, do not pose a clinically significant skin cancer risk, according to a letter to the editor published online Dec. 6 in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

Alina Markova, M.D., from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and Martin A. Weinstock, M.D., Ph.D., from Brown University in Providence, R.I., compared irradiance from three common UV nail lamps with exposure of narrowband UVB (NBUVB) used for phototherapy. The action spectrum for photocarcinogenesis (Skin Cancer Utrecht-Philadelphia human [SCUP-h]) was used to determine each device's carcinogenic effective irradiance. The nail lamp's UV dose per session was calculated, assuming 10 minutes per UV nail lamp session for each device's carcinogenic-effective irradiance. SCUP-h was used to determine the ratio between the carcinogenic potential of the UV nail lamp and the single NBUVB phototherapy course.

The researchers found that UV nail lamps primarily emitted UVA with no detectable UVB or UVC. The highest spectral irradiances produced by devices A, B (containing fluorescent lamps), and C (light-emitting diode) were 15,253, 15,202, and 2,845 mWm−2, respectively. To equal the dose received during one NBUVB course, over 13,000 sessions with device A or B and more than 40,000 sessions with device C sessions would be required.

"Our study of three UV nail lamps reveals that such exposure is a tiny fraction of a single NBUVB course, and hence does not produce a clinically significant increased risk of developing skin cancer," Markova and Weinstock conclude.

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