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Breast Cancer Linked to Permanent Hair Dye

A new government-sponsored study has show that use of permanent hair dye and hair straighteners may increase the risk of breast cancer.

hair dye

The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), has announced the results of a study which indicates that women who use certain chemicals on their hair may be at higher risk for developing breast cancer. The study shows that the risk of breast cancer risk increases as chemicals are used more frequently.

Alexandra White, Ph.D., head of NIEHS Cancer group stated that “Researchers have been studying the possible link between hair dye and cancer for a long time, but results have been inconsistent.” Indicating that the new information was illuminating.

The breast cancer hair dye results from the Sister Study were published in the International Journal of Cancer after an agency of the NIH, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) examined medical records and data from 46,709 women whose sister had breast cancer. Analysis of the records showed that women who had regularly used permanent hair dye in the year before enrolling in the study were at a higher risk of breast cancer than similar women who had not used these chemicals.

The results were even more startling when comparing statistics by race. African-American women who used permanent hair dye every 5 to 8 weeks or more often, was associated with an increased risk of 60%. In white women, the same conditions only showed an eight percent increase in risk.

Breast Cancer and Hair Straighteners

Though researchers were less confident in results, in addition to an increased risk of breast cancer in permanent hair dye users, women who use permanent hair straightening chemicals every five to eight weeks were about 30% more likely to develop breast cancer.

Unlike the hair dye results, the same percentages were seen across all ethnic groups however African-American women were more likely to have used hair straightener products. Women who use both hair straighteners and hair dye may be at compounded risk, but numbers were not identified, and researchers stated that more studies are needed.

Women who used temporary methods of hair coloring or hair straightening were not considered to be at increased risk. The Sister Study was originally designed to study breast cancer patients for 14 years but has been expanded to continue for another ten years so more results may be forthcoming.

Breast Cancer in Women

About 12 percent or one in eight women develop breast cancer in the course of their lives. Women who have inherited certain genes including the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation are at higher risk, and certain other factors such as age, race and lifestyle issues may also compound the risk. Other than race and the increased risk of hair dye, there were no specific factors that changed the risk of breast cancer and hair chemicals more than other groups or categories of participants.

Study authors have stated that these results are not enough reason to force the withdrawal of permanent hair dyes or hair straighteners but that women should be educated about the factors that increase breast cancer risk.

Women or family members of those who have been diagnosed with breast cancer or experienced serious harm after using a product like permanent hair dye may wish to seek legal assistance. In some cases, lawsuits have provided compensation for medical injuries that occur as a result of product liability or manufacturer negligence.

Notwithstanding claims relating to this product, the drug/medical device remains approved by the U.S. FDA.


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