Hair dye, chemical straighteners linked to increased cancer risk, study shows

Hair dye, chemical straighteners linked to increased cancer risk, study shows
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) -If you’ve ever wondered if using the hair products was safe, scientists are tackling the issue!

Women who use permanent hair dye and chemical straighteners have a higher risk of developing breast cancer than those who don’t use the products, according to scientists at the National Institutes of Health.

The study was published Wednesday in the International Journal of Cancer. More than 46,000 women participated in the study.

“Researchers have been studying the possible link between hair dye and cancer for a long time, but results have been inconsistent,” said Dr. Alexandra White, head of the NIEHS Environment and Cancer Epidemiology Group, in a NIH press release. “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.”

Women who regularly used permanent hair dye in the year prior to enrolling in the study were 9 percent more likely than women who didn’t use hair dye to develop breast cancer.

The NIH team says the association between cancer and the products was even more pronounced in African American women.

Among African American women, using permanent dyes every five to eight weeks or more was associated with a 60 percent increased risk of breast cancer as compared with an 8 percent increased risk for white women. Women who used hair straighteners at least every five to eight weeks were about 30 percent more likely to develop breast cancer. While the association between straightener use and breast cancer was similar in African American and white women, straightener use was much more common among African American women, researchers say.

While the study did note a correlation between the two factors, it does not prove that the hair products cause cancer.

“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,” said Dr. White in the press release.

The research team found little to no increase in breast cancer risk for semi-permanent or temporary dye use, the NIH says.

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