How Exactly Do These Products Put You At Risk
To permanently change the color of your hair, chemicals need to penetrate the hair cuticle and react with the melanin in your hair. These chemicals include everything from ammonia and hydrogen peroxide to some that are considered carcinogens, and others that are hormonally active.
You absorb products through your skin thats why we have birth control and medications that are delivered through a patch on your skin and your scalp has a very high rate of absorption because there is a large blood supply, Dr. Weiss explains. In addition to absorbing chemicals through your scalp, you also breathe in the chemicals while you sit in the chair having the process done, especially if you are in a small, poorly ventilated space for several hours. Dr. Weiss points out that though you only absorb a small amount of chemicals each time you dye or straighten your hair, many women repeat this process every month, adding up to accumulated exposure over many years.
Which Products Contain Formaldehyde
The United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration has identified some of the brand-name products that contain formaldehyde or create exposure through use, even though they do not list formaldehyde on their labels.
Small amounts of some chemicals may be absorbed through the skin or inhaled from fumes while dyeing your hair, having your hair dyed, or dyeing someone elses hair.
Hairdressers and other professionals who regularly work around hair dyes may have a higher exposure to these chemicals than those who occasionally use hair dye for personal use.
Most research so far has not found a conclusive link between personal hair dye use and cancer but rather notes the potential.
The World Health Organizations International Agency for Research on Cancer has determined that chemical exposure at work for these professionals is likely carcinogenic . In terms of personal hair dye use, the IARC determined it cant be classified as carcinogenic to humans, due to the lack of evidence from human studies.
The U.S. governments National Toxicology Program has not classified exposure to hair dyes as having the potential to cause cancer, but has deemed some chemicals that are now or were previously used in hair dyes to possibly be human carcinogens.
Personal Use Of Permanent Hair Dyes
The participants reported personal use of permanent hair dyes at baseline , which included current or past use and duration, frequency, and age at first use, with updates every two years.1718 Specifically, on the 1976 questionnaire, the participants reported whether they had ever used a permanent hair dye , and whether they have used permanent hair dyes for how many years . Participants were also asked At what age did you first use a permanent hair dye? in the same questionnaire. Additionally, in 1978, 1980, and 1982, the participants provided updated information on permanent hair dye use through questionnaires by answering the question Do you use a permanent hair dye currently? and How often do you currently use permanent hair dyes? . Participants who reported ever use of permanent hair dyes in any of the assessments were classified as ever users, and all others as non-users. Duration of use was calculated using baseline and cumulatively updated assessments of lifetime hair dye use history. Frequency of use was calculated as the average reported at baseline and during regular updates thereafter. Time since first use was determined according to responses and age. To assess an integrated measure of cumulative dose of permanent hair dye use, we multiplied the average frequency of use by duration of use .
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What Is The Evidence That Personal Hair Dye Use Is Associated With Risk Of Leukemia
Studies of the association between personal hair dye use and the risk of leukemia have had conflicting results. For example, one case-control study examined hair dye use among 769 patients with adult acute leukemia and 623 people without leukemia in the United States and Canada . It found that the risks of acute leukemia were higher among users of earlier formulations of both permanent and nonpermanent dyes than among those who had not used dyes, although the increases were not statistically significant. No risk increases were seen among users of more recent dye formulations. Risk was greatest among those who had used permanent dyes for longer durations .
However, a case-control study in Italy found no association between use of permanent hair dye overall and risk of leukemia, although users of black permanent dyes, but not of other color dyes, did have an increased risk. This study, however, did not collect information on the timing or frequency of hair dye use .
Q: Is Hair Dye Safe For Patients With Cancer
A: We dont have good data on hair dye use for patients undergoing cancer treatment. The studies weve discussed were examining people who were not diagnosed with breast cancer. The available data doesnt give us a clear answer about current patients.
Q: What about chemical hair straighteners and breast cancer risk?
A: Some chemical straighteners contain formaldehyde, a known carcinogen. The Sister Study looked at hair straighteners and found some increased breast cancer risk associated with them.
Straightener use in the 12 months before enrollment in the study was associated with an 18% higher breast cancer risk, with more frequent use associated with higher risk. For example, those that used straighteners every 5 to 8 weeks had a 31% higher breast cancer risk.
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Does Hair Dye Cause Breast Cancer
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Breast cancer is a major concern among women of all ages. Prior studies focusing on the association between hair dye and breast cancer have come up with mixed results until recently, so the news can be confusing. That’s why one group of researchers decided to address the topic using sisters by recording the results over an eight-year period.
These researchers received more definitive results than others have in the past, and they were able to draw a clear link between cancer-causing chemicals in the permanent hair dye and the risk for breast cancer. So if you’ve heard of past studies on the topic and are asking, “Does Hair Dye Cause Breast Cancer?” you’ll want to read about the conclusions found by this new study to get the facts.
What Does This Mean For Me
Your breast cancer risk may be increased if you use permanent hair dyes or straighteners this risk may be greater for black women than white women. The results of this study conflict with the conclusions of some older studies. There are many limitations of this study that suggest the conclusions need to be taken cautiously. Even if true, the effect of permanent hair dye or straightener use would be an increase in breast cancer risk that may have limited real-world impact. Other lifestyle factors have comparable or much greater effects on breast cancer risk.
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What Is The Evidence That Personal Hair Dye Use Is Associated With Risk Of Nhl
A number of studies have investigated the relationship between the personal use of hair dyes and the risk of NHL, with conflicting results. Because the small size of some studies may have limited their ability to detect an association between hair dye use and cancer, a pooled analysis of four case-control studies was carried out . All four studies had obtained detailed information on hair dye use, including dates and duration of use, and on NHL subtype. The pooled analysis included 4,461 women with NHL and 5,799 women who did not have NHL. The results of the study showed that women who began using hair dye before 1980 had a slightly increased risk of NHL compared with women who had never used hair dye, whereas no such increase in risk was seen for women who began using hair dye after 1980.
Results In Black Women Vs White Women
There was a large discrepancy in the findings for Black women versus White women. Any permanent dye use in the year before joining the study was associated with a 45% higher breast cancer risk for Black women. This increased to a 60% higher risk for Black women who used hair dye at least every five to eight weeks, compared with an 8% increased risk for White women. The association was present for both light and dark-colored dye in Black women, while only light-colored permanent hair dye was associated with breast cancer risk in White women.
Straightener use in the year before the study was associated with an 18% higher breast cancer risk, while a 31% higher breast cancer risk was found for women who used straighteners at least every five to eight weeks.
This risk did not vary by ethnicity, but the use of straighteners is much higher in Black women than in White women .
A 2021 analysis that included 210,319 participants provided significant evidence to support that chemicals in permanent hair dyes increase the risk of breast cancer, but it did not find significant evidence of an increased cancer risk associated with the use of hair straighteners.
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How Are People Exposed To Hair Dyes
When people dye their hair or have it dyed, some chemicals in the hair dyes can be absorbed in small amounts through the skin or inhaled from fumes in the air.
People who work around hair dyes regularly as part of their jobs, such as hairdressers, stylists, and barbers, are likely to be exposed more than people who just dye their hair on occasion. Many of the concerns about hair dyes possibly causing cancer have focused on people who work with them.
Personal Use Of Permanent Hair Dyes And Cancer Risk And Mortality In Us Women: Prospective Cohort Study
- Accepted 4 July 2020
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Why Is Hair Dye Potentially Dangerous
Using hair dye is such a common activity that I imagine most people do not give it a second thought. However, permanent and semi-permanent hair dyes contain a multitude of chemicals, such as aromatic amines and phenols, which affect how hormones act inside your body. One of these is estrogen, which is one of the triggers for hormone-related breast cancers and makes cells grow abnormally. As a result, any exposure to chemicals that have the same effect should be limited where possible.
These chemicals are absorbed through the skin and can also be breathed in from fumes generated during the dying process. This means that hairstylists are at risk from working around the chemicals, as well as the people who are having their hair dyed.
Temporary and semi-permanent dyes are not thought to carry the same risk as the permanent versions.
Q: What Do We Know About Hair Dyes And Cancer Risk
A: Theres been mixed data over the years. But there was a relatively large 2019 National Institutes of Health study that looked at this risk in more than 45,000 women. Called the Sister Study, it examined the relationship between breast cancer and the use of hair dye and hair straightener.
Researchers found that:
- People who used permanent hair dye regularly had a higher risk of developing breast cancer than those who didnt.
- Black women may be at higher risk than white women. There was a 45% increased risk in Black women compared to a 7% increased risk in white women.
Some research has suggested that semi-permanent hair dye may affect breast cancer risk as well. Interestingly, the Sister Study showed while the semi-permanent dye was not associated with risk, those who used semi-permanent dye themselves without the assistance of a professional hairstylist had an association with breast cancer risk.
Some data connects hair dye with other cancers. The most well-studied connection is between bladder cancer and hair dye. Some studies have found that people who use hair dyes routinely as part of their work are at higher risk of developing bladder cancer. A 2006 study, however, did not support it as an important risk factor.
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Hair Dye Straighteners And Breast Cancer
A 2019 study examined a possible link between breast cancer and hair dye and hair straighteners. The study included 46,709 women in the United States who had no history of breast cancer at the time of the study enrollment, but had at least one sister who had received a breast cancer diagnosis.
The study found that the women who regularly used permanent hair dye during the year prior to the study were 9% more likely to develop breast cancer than those who didnt use hair dye.
Little to no increase in breast cancer risk was found for semi-permanent or temporary dye use, though an association with nonprofessional application of semi-permanent dye to others was noted. This risk increased with frequency of use.
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Straighteners Also Pose Upped Risk
Use of permanent hair dye or hair straightening chemicals were both associated with a higher risk for breast cancer than ‘never use’ and the risks are particularly pronounced among black women, a new analysis of a 50,000-participant study shows.
“Hair products contain more than 5000 chemicals, including some with mutagenic and endocrine-disrupting properties such as aromatic amines,” senior author Alexandra White, PhD, head of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, and colleagues explain.
“Overall, results support the hypothesis that hair dye and straightener use, which are highly prevalent exposures, could play a role in breast carcinogenesis,” they conclude.
The study was December 3 in the International Journal of Cancer.
Notably, prior findings on the association between hair dye use and breast cancer have been inconsistent. “While a few studies have reported a positive association, many concluded that there was no elevated risk,” the authors write.
The prospective Sister Study enrolled 50,884 women aged 35 to 74 years living in the United States and Puerto Rico between 2003 and 2009.
The enrollees themselves had no history of breast cancer but had at least one sister who did.
“Current hair dye and straightener use, defined as use in the 12 months before enrollment, was assessed by questionnaire and was completed by 47,650 participants,” investigators write.
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Hair Dyes And Straighteners May Raise Breast Cancer Risk For Black Women
A new study finds a weak link between coloring and straightening treatments and breast cancer. But experts caution the results are far from certain.
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For decades, scientists have debated whether hair dyes frequently used by women might contribute to cancer. The research has been mixed and inconclusive, but now government investigators have turned up a disturbing new possibility.
Black women who regularly used permanent dyes to color their hair were 60 percent more likely to develop breast cancer, compared to black women who did not report using dye, according to an analysis published this week in The International Journal of Cancer.
White women using hair dye did not see a significantly increased risk. The reasons are unclear: It may be because different products are designed for women of different ethnic and racial backgrounds, or that variations in hair texture alter the amounts of dye that are applied or absorbed through the skin.
The study also implicated hair straighteners, finding a 30 percent increase in the risk of breast cancer among women of all races who reported regular use of the products. African-American womenwere much more likely than white women to use hair straighteners, the researchers noted.
What Expert Agencies Say
Several national and international agencies study substances in the environment to determine if they can cause cancer. The American Cancer Society looks to these organizations to evaluate the risks based on the available evidence.
Based on studies in people and studies done in the lab, some of these expert agencies have classified hair dyes or their ingredients as to whether they can cause cancer.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer is part of the World Health Organization . One of its major goals is to identify causes of cancer. IARC has concluded that workplace exposure as a hairdresser or barber is probably carcinogenic to humans, based on the data regarding bladder cancer. But IARC considers personal hair dye use to be not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity to humans, based on a lack of evidence from studies in people.
The US National Toxicology Program is an interagency program of the National Institutes of Health , the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , and the Food and Drug Administration . The NTP has not classified the potential of hair dyes to cause cancer. However, it has classified some chemicals that are or were used in hair dyes as reasonably anticipated to be human carcinogens.
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