I always recognize a set of gel-polished nails because they look so shiny and flawless. Women check out other women’s nails more than men

I yelped when I learned of gel nail polish and even endured trips to the nail salon with enthusiasm (I loathe going to the nail salon). After a few months of gel manicures, my nails had a bit of sexy length and my husband couldn’t keep his hands off mine. I cooked, washed dishes and potted plants –you know, activities that standard nail polish manicures cannot withstand. No matter what I did, my gel nails boasted power to withstand the abuse. Never mind that after several gel fills, my nails felt more like parchment paper, thinned way beyond what acrylics did to them years ago. Sticking my tootsies inside the UV lamp burned like a mofo but I withstood like a vain trooper for the sake of my near-perfect nails. I even went to a beauty supply and purchased a UV lamp and several bottles of gel polish. Gone were trips to the depressing nail salon where busy body talk shows blared from ceiling-mounted televisions. I could manicure my nails at my convenience. That is, until I received an email one day from my sister-in-law that scared the bejesus out of me. She too used to get gel manicures.

What I learned in horror is that the use of UV radiation in nail salons for drying and curing polishes has come under scrutiny owing to concerns about carcinogenesis

Companions, that means that these UV lamps cause skin cancer in plain English. A few recent studies evaluated potential irradiation scenarios and concluded that UV nail polish drying lamps pose only a small risk to clients (small was enough for me). However, these studies lacked randomized light sampling from commercial salons. There have been a few cases of ladies who got skin cancer on the backs of their hands. Both received gel manicures. Perhaps part of the problem is that there is no regulation of UV nail lamp exposure. It is also quite possible that exposure to the UV lamp will accelerate aging of the skin on your hands (admittedly, there is something terribly wrong when my fingers burned horribly beneath the UV lamp). It has been concluded that the risk of getting skin cancer is low. Hmmmm. Really?

After a little research, I made a b-line for my bathroom and promptly trashed more than $160 worth of gel manicure paraphernalia

What drove me was the tragic story of a friend who never intentionally worshiped the sun. During the course of his young life (he passed away in his early thirties) doctors diagnosed a carcinoma on his nose. A few years later, it spread to his lymph nodes and, well, you know what happened. It is a dreadfully pessimistic story, I know, but it happens all the time.

My fellow sisters, unfortunately, I cannot turn back the hands of time and erase the endless summers when I would bake my [what used to be] lean, sexpot figure in the sizzling sun for days on end. It felt so good. I loved my deep tan and I looked beyond delicious in skimpy, summer dresses. But cancer doesn’t care. It has a way of getting revenge decades after we’ve betrayed our skin. Could I be at risk for any type of cancer? Most likely.

Now that I’m a lot more mature and no longer subject my skin to the blazing sun, I most certainly will not knowingly risk my health getting gel manicures or even frequenting the tanning booth. I have accepted my slight nail beds and winter-white legs. I have returned to polishing my own nails, waiting for them to dry, redoing them when I paint too thick and get bubbles; re-polishing every few days when they chip.

Some things to think about, ladies.