For women who love to constantly straighten and dye their hairs with different colours, today red, next week brown, and so on, a worldwide study conducted by scientists at the National Institutes of Health, United States, has recently found that women who use permanent hair straighteners and dye have a high risk of developing breast cancer than women who don’t use any of these products.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) breast cancer is the most common among women, impacting 2.1 million women annually, and also causes the greatest number of cancer-related deaths among women. In 2018, it was estimated that 627,000 women died from breast cancer – that is approximately 15 percent of all cancer deaths among women
The findings reported on MedicalXpress and published in the International Journal of Cancer, revealed that breast cancer risk increased with more frequent use of these chemical hair products.
To analyze the facts, scientists used data from 46,709 women in the Sister Study, they found that women who regularly use permanent hair dye in the year prior to enrolling in the study were 9 percent more likely to develop breast cancer than women who didn’t use hair dye.
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. The research team found little to no increase in breast cancer risk for semi-permanent or temporary dye use.
“Researchers have been studying the possible link between hair dye and cancer for a long time, but results have been inconsistent,” said corresponding 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.”
An intriguing finding was the association between the use of chemical hair straighteners and breast cancer. Dr White and colleagues found that 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.
Co-author Dale Sandler, Ph.D., chief of the NIEHS Epidemiology Branch, cautioned that although there is some prior evidence to support the association with chemical straighteners, these results need to be replicated in other studies.
When asked if women should stop dyeing or straightening their hair, 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.”