Study points to cancer risk from laser hair removal

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Study points to cancer risk from laser hair removal
The market for laser hair removal is still fast growing, with demand for home devices being particularly strong, but new study says that there could be a good a cancer risk.

A team of researchers at the University of California say the problem is associated with the strong smell of burning hair that is associated with the laser hair removal process.

This odour is associated with potentially toxic chemicals that can irritate the airways, and although the risk is deemed to be relatively small to occasional at home users, the risks to beauty practitioners who administer the procedure regularly could be far higher.ct

Lung irritation is a common side affect

Dr. Gary Chuang, one of the lead scientists for the research at the David Geffen School of Medicine, told Reuter Health in an interview that his research team believes that smoke from the laser process and the irritation in the airways are known to cause cancer.

The research involved Dr. Chuang and two other colleagues at the University of California, who collected hair samples from two volunteers, then gave them the same type of laser hair removal treatment commonly used in beauty salons, capturing the resulting plume of smoke from the burnt hair in sealed jars.

The results of the study showed that 377 chemical compounds were present in the smoke, including 20 that are potentially toxic, such as carbon monoxide, and 13 that are known carcinogens, including benzene and toluene.

Very fine particles are of most concern

The research also revealed some concerning data relating to the concentration of very fine particles, which can prove to be more hazardous to the airways.

Indeed, they found an eight-fold increase in very fine particles compared with room air, but when the smoke evacuator in the lab set up was turned off, the fine particle rate increased more than 26-fold.

“Laser hair removal performed by improperly trained personnel or in an inadequately equipped facility will put both the healthcare workers and patients at risk,”​ Dr. Chuang told Reuters Health.

Adding his belief that sufficient precaution should be taking by those both using and carrying out the laser hair removal process, Dr. Chuang added: “The procedures should be done only in spaces with “an adequate air filtration system and a smoke evacuator.”

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