Permanent Hair Dye and Straighteners Associated With Breast Cancer

​Women who use permanent hair dye and chemical hair straighteners are at an increased risk of developing breast cancer, a new study says. Scientists at the National Institutes of Health discovered that women who do not use these products have an incredibly low risk of developing cancers than women who use them.

Permanent Hair Dye is Dangerous

The research was published in the International Journal of Cancer on December 4th and demonstrated that breast cancer threat raised with more regular use of these chemical hair products.

Based on data collected from 46,709 women in the Sister Study​, scientists at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), discovered that women who frequently used permanent hair dye in the year before the study took place were 9 percent more at risk to develop breast cancer than women who did not use the chemical product.

Among African American women, dyeing the hair with permanent tinctures every five to eight weeks or more often was linked with a 60 percent increased risk of breast cancer in comparison with an 8 percent enhanced risk for white women. The group of scientists discovered little to no rise in breast cancer risk for semi-permanent or impermanent dye use.

“Researchers have been studying the possible link between hair dye and cancer for a long time, but results have been inconsistent,” said co-author Alexandra White, Ph.D., head of the NIEHS Environment and Cancer Epidemiology Group. “In our study, we see a higher breast cancer risk associated with hair dye use, and the effect is stronger in African American women, particularly those who are frequent users.” 

Chemical Straighteners Linked to Breast Cancer

A surprising discovery was the link between the use of chemical hair straighteners ​and an increased risk of breast cancer. Dr. White and fellow researchers found that women who use chemical hair straighteners, minimum every five to eight weeks were approximately 30 percent more prone to develop breast cancer.

The link between straightener use and breast cancer was analogous in African American and white women, but straightener use was much more customary among African American women.

Dale Sandler, Ph.D., head of the NIEHS Epidemiology Branch, and corresponding author of the research, warned that even though there is some previous evidence to back up the link between chemical straighteners ​and breast cancer, these findings also need to be reiterated in other studies.

Dr. Sandler said: ​”We are exposed to many things that could potentially contribute to breast cancer, and it is unlikely that any single factor explains a woman’s risk. While it is too early to make a firm recommendation, avoiding these chemicals might be one more thing women can do to reduce their risk of breast cancer.”​

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