Coloring, Straightening Hair May Give You Breast Cancer, Study Warns

Permanent hair dye and chemical hair straighteners have been found with serious side effects. A new study shows that women who frequently change the color or straighten their hair with the chemicals are more likely to develop breast cancer. 

The findings, published in the International Journal of Cancer, support previous research that discovered a link between hair dye and straighteners and cancer in animals. Researchers said the latest study in humans provides a more concrete evidence of the link, NPR reported Wednesday.

The team looked at medical records and lifestyle surveys from 46,709 women, aged 35 to 74 years, who participated in the Sister Study. The respondents answered questions about the use of hair dyes and straighteners. 

Results showed permanent hair dye use increased the risk of having breast cancer by 7 percent among white women. But the risk was significantly higher in African American women, which reached nearly 45 percent after exposure to the chemicals. 

That risk becomes higher when women dyed their hair every one or two months. For chemical hair straighteners, risk appeared similar between black and white women. 

They had 30 percent higher chances of developing breast cancer after using the product. However, researchers noted they did not identify the specific ingredients in the products that contributed to the cancer risk. 

The team said currently available hair products contain more than 5,000 chemicals. Some hair dyes have mutagenic and endocrine-disrupting properties, such as aromatic amines, which have long been associated with cancer risk.

"For the chemical straighteners one of the big concerns there is formaldehyde, which is a known carcinogen," Alexandra White, study author and researcher at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, said. Brazilian keratin treatments were found with the potentially harmful chemical after the products entered the market in the early 2000s. 

The team noted more studies are required to further understand how permanent hair dye and chemical hair straighteners contribute to the development of breast cancer in women. Future tests should involve long-term clinical trials with a control group and placebo to better see the effects of the hair products. 

Hair Dye Study shows that women who frequently use permanent hair dye are more likely to develop breast cancer.  Pixabay