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Can nail polish cause cancer?

Last updated on: March 23, 2017 10:05 IST
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Some of the chemicals used in nail polish can harm your body, and even cause cancer.

For decades, women have used nail paints to make their hands look prettier.

While it is true that these paints make for attractive hands, can they actually cause harm?

What women don't know is that most nail products have various chemicals in them that are, in fact, harmful.

These chemicals, to begin with, can wreak havoc with one's endocrine system (the kidney, in particular) and if exploited beyond moderation, can even cause cancer. 

Scary, enough, isn't?

Understand the toxins in nail paints

There is a range of chemicals in nail paints, but the most damaging are -- Toluene, Formaldehyde, and Dibutyl Phthalate. 

In fact, out of about ten thousand chemicals used to create nail care products, only about a tenth have been even studied for their safety.

Toluene, formaldehyde, and dibutyl phthalate may be difficult sounding names, but they are the three biggest risk-causing chemicals present in nail products.

So what exact trouble can these, among others, cause?

Toluene is the reason why many nail paints are smoothly distributed across the nail. However, it can cause harm to the reproductive system.

The chemical whose purpose is to stop the colour from separating in the bottle, can impact the central nervous system.

You cannot also dismiss the fact that toulene is added to gasoline.

Similarly, formaldehyde's basic function is to disinfect. In fact, laboratories use it on dead bodies.

If you read up a little more, you'll find out that inhaling this chemical or letting your skin come in direct contact of this substance can be dangerous.

Dibutyl phthalate is an adhesive that is already banned in several countries, particularly in toys made for children. It is suspected to harm the endocrine system and male reproductive system.

Be Safe!

Does this mean, you must stop using nailpaints altogether?

Well, anything, used in moderation and with caution could reduce the risk involved.

You can start by checking the labels to make sure the product is free from toxic substances.

Having said that, a lot of nail makeup products do contain these chemicals although they may not claim it on their labels!

Now, if you are working at a salon or in the fashion and entertainment industry, you must bear in mind the risks involved in choosing and using these products.

What really worsens the situation is the general lack of ventilation at salons and green rooms which makes the air you breathe toxic.

The ground rule is to be aware, and share the information, so you can minimise the risk wherever possible.

Lead image used for representational purposes only. Image: Freepht/

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