Hair dye has been around since the beginning of civilisation, but are hair dyes safe? Is there any risk in using it.
A new study has found that permanent hair dyes and chemical straighteners have been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. The findings, published in the International Journal of Cancer, come after years of concerns regarding the potential impacts hair products have on health.
To study the health risks associated with hair products, researchers analysed data from 46,709 women ranging in age from 35 to 74 and enrolled in a Sister Study, which recruited women whose sisters had been diagnosed with breast cancer.
After analysing answers to questions regarding the women's health, lifestyle and demographics, the researchers found that women who regularly used permanent hair dye in the year prior to enrolling in the study were nine per cent more likely to develop breast cancer than women who didn’t.
Among black women, using permanent hair dye was associated with a 45 per cent higher risk of developing breast cancer. When the permanent hair dye was used “every five to eight weeks or more” the risk rose to 60 per cent in black women, according to the researchers.
The risk was not found to be associated with semi-permanent or temporary hair dye.
The causes of breast cancer are not fully known and the NHS states that factors such as family history, age, breast density, and lifestyle factors such as weight and alcohol consumption may all contribute to the risk of developing the disease.
Eberle CE, Sandler DP, Taylor KW, White AJ. Hair dye and chemical straightener use and breast cancer risk in a large US population of black and white women [published online December 3, 2019]. Int J Cancer. doi:10.1002/ijc.32738
"Many hair products contain endocrine‐disrupting compounds and carcinogens potentially relevant to breast cancer. Products used predominately by black women may contain more hormonally active compounds. In a national prospective cohort study, we examined the association between hair dye and chemical relaxer/straightener use and breast cancer risk by ethnicity. Sister Study participants (n = 46,709), women ages 35–74, were enrolled between 2003 and 2009, and had a sister with breast cancer but were breast cancer free themselves."
The study found:
During follow up (mean = 8.3 years), 2,794 breast cancers were identified. Fifty five percent of participants reported using permanent dye at enrollment. Permanent dye use was associated with 45% higher breast cancer risk in black women (HR = 1.45, 95% CI: 1.10–1.90), and 7% higher risk in white women (HR = 1.07, 95% CI: 0.99–1.16; heterogeneity p = 0.04). Among all participants, personal straightener use was associated with breast cancer risk (HR = 1.18, 95% CI 0.99–1.41); with higher risk associated with increased frequency (p for trend = 0.02). Nonprofessional application of semipermanent dye (HR = 1.28, 95% CI 1.05–1.56) and straighteners (HR = 1.27, 95% CI 0.99–1.62) to others was associated with breast cancer risk.
These results suggest that chemicals in hair products may play a role in breast carcinogenesis.
Alternatives to hair hair dye.
To cover grey hair without harsh chemical apply citrus juice and a paste of cassia powder mixed with water for your grey hair to make blonde shade. For red, brown, or black use henna powder mixed with coffee powder, and curd or plain yogurt. Or going grey may not be a bad alternative as long as you have hair!
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