For women, shaving is both annoying and expensive. It’s no wonder so many of them turn to laser hair removal as a permanent solution to unwanted hair growth.
But researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles have a warning about a major downside to this popular procedure. Smoke produced by the laser contains chemicals that have been linked to cancer.
UCLA dermatologist Dr. Gary Chuang and his team collected hair samples from two women, sealed them in jars, and treated them with a laser. They found 377 chemical compounds in the resulting smoke, 13 of which are known or suspected to cause cancer, according to the Daily Mail.
While a hair removal procedure may not last long enough for the smoke to cause serious damage to a patient, the risk is far greater for doctors and other practitioners who perform them every day, Dr. Chuang said.
He stressed the importance of only getting laser hair removal from certified and trusted practices.
“Laser hair removal performed by improperly trained personnel or in an inadequately equipped facility will put both the healthcare workers and patients at risk,” he said in the Daily Mail. Everyone who participates in the procedure should take certain precautions, such as wearing respiratory masks.
While there has been no reported increase of cancer cases among technicians who perform laser hair removal, other medical professionals say Chuang’s findings mean more research is warranted — and women who are considering the procedure should be fully aware of its risks.