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20-12-2012 | General practice | Article

UV nail lamp use not associated with skin cancer risk


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medwireNews: Research shows that artificial ultraviolet (UV) nail lamps do not significantly increase the risk for developing keratinocyte carcinoma.

"Although some sources of UVA and UVB contribute to the development of KCs [keratinocyte carcinomas], UV nail lamps do not appear to significantly increase the lifetime risk of KC," say Alina Markova (Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, USA) and Martin Weinstock (Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Rhode Island, USA).

They compared the effect of UV radiation emitted by UV nail lamps with that of phototherapy devices. Narrow band UVB (NBUVB) used for phototherapy is a commonly used dermatologic treatment, viewed as low risk for the development of keratinocyte carcinoma.

Three UV nail lamp devices were tested: device A consisted of four 9W UV fluorescent bulbs, device B consisted of one 9W UV fluorescent bulb, and device C consisted of six 1W light-emitting diode UV lights.

The wavelengths, wattages, and spectral irradiance of these three nail lamps were considered representative of standard devices used in the field.

Markova and Weinstock used the action spectrum for photocarcinogenesis (Skin Cancer Utrecht-Philadelphia human [SCUP-h]) to determine the ratio between the carcinogenic potential of the UV nail lamps and the single NBUVB phototherapy course.

The researchers based their comparison on the assumption that a patient would receive a cumulative UV dose of 25 J/cm2 during a single NBUVB course of 15-30 treatments over a period of 5-10 weeks.

They found that over 13,000 10-minute UV nail lamp sessions with device A or B and more than 40,000 with device C would be required to equal the UV dose received during one course of NBUVB treatment.

This means that an individual would have to undergo over 250 years of weekly UV nail sessions to equal the same risk exposure from one course of NBUVB.

"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," write the authors.

"Dermatologists and primary-care physicians may reassure patients regarding the safety of these devices," they say.

The study findings are published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

By Nikki Withers, medwireNews Reporter

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