Published: Thu, December 05, 2019
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

Alarming study shows hair dyes increase cancer risk

Alarming study shows hair dyes increase cancer risk

Women who used permanent hair dyes or straighteners are at an increased risk of developing breast cancer compared to those who didn't use those hair styling products.

"Researchers have been studying the possible link between hair dye and cancer for a long time, but results have been inconsistent", said study author Alexandra White from National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) in US.

The study, however, found "little to no increase" in breast cancer risk among women who used semi-permanent or temporary dyes.

Overall, the study found that regular use of permanent hair dye was associated with a 9% increased risk of developing breast cancer.

But for African American women, their risk was significantly higher, in fact, it was 45% higher when compared to non-users.

Women who used chemical straighteners had an 18 percent increased risk. Tanya Kovacevic, the manager of FOS Living Organic Hair Salon in Garden City, says most of the salon's clients are pregnant women or cancer survivors who are looking to be safer when it comes to chemicals. Even so, it might be wise to avoid chemical straighteners and permanent hair dyes, she said. Also, Black women are more often found to have triple-negative breast cancer, an aggressive type that frequently returns after treatment.

New research raises concern about the safety of permanent hair dye and chemical hair straighteners, especially among African American women.

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A study published yesterday in the Journal of Cancer tracked 46,709 women ages 35-74 over eight years.

One breast cancer expert said she read the new study with "surprise and dismay".

I believe women should be aware of this research because millions use these products.

However, the new study "really suggests a plausible link" between certain hair care products and cancer, she said. For example, long-term clinical trials with a control group and placebo would be more definitive but this type of study "would be hard if not impossible to do". Participants completed an assessment on their health, demographics, and lifestyle, which included the use of hair products (in the past 12 months) at enrollment and provided researchers with updates over the course of eight years. To reduce risk, researcher White says women might want to choose these products instead.

According to the American Cancer Society, the International Agency for Research on Cancer does not consider personal hair dye use as "classifiable as to its carcinogenicity to humans", but has recognized that workplace exposure as a hairdresser or barber is "probably carcinogenic to humans" based on data regarding bladder cancer.

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