Permanent hair dyes and chemical straighteners may be linked to breast cancer

Grant Boone
December 5, 2019

"Researchers have been studying the possible link between hair dye and cancer for a long time, but results have been inconsistent", Alexandra White, one of the study's authors, said in a statement.

Women who use permanent hair dye or chemical straighteners might have an elevated risk of developing breast cancer, national health researchers said in a study published Wednesday.

The study also found that women who used chemical hair straighteners at least every five to eight weeks were about 30 percent more likely to develop breast cancer than those who didn't use these products. And a recent study has finally come up with some serious findings.

When it came to chemical straighteners, risk didn't vary by race. 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.

For black women, the risk could be as high as 45% which the study suggests is likely due to different chemicals in hair products specifically for black women's hair texture. While there is some prior evidence to support an association between breast cancer risk and chemical straighteners, he said, the results need to be replicated in other studies before a definitive answer can be found. The study did not look at the specific ingredients in the products women were using, only at whether they had used the product and whether they developed breast cancer. The study published online December 4 in the International Journal of Cancer and suggests that breast cancer risk increased with more frequent use of these chemical hair products.

NEIGHMOND: Dr. Otis Brawley is a medical oncologist with Johns Hopkins University.

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"We know the things that can lower the risk of breast cancer, things like exercise, keeping your weight in a healthy range, minimizing alcohol consumption if you are in a high-risk group and, if possible, breastfeed", she said.

Well, breast cancer is rarely caused by one thing only.

"Sometimes science just can not give us the answers that we want it to give us", says Brawley.

The risk was notably higher among black women.

After the education, Dr. Wiafe Addai who is also the Chief Executive Officer of Peace and Love hospitals led her team to screen women of both churches.

And while researchers have linked family history, diet, and ethnicity to increased risk for developing the disease, our hair care products could also be an associated risk.

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