- Scientists have found a worrying link between breast cancer and the use of hair dyes and chemical straighteners also known as relaxers.
- The new study shows that women who used these two products were 9% more likely to develop breast cancer as opposed to other women who did not.
- The risk increases significantly for black women.
Researchers at the National Institutes of Health are suggesting that the use of certain hair products could lead to breast cancer.
After studying over 46,000 women in the U.S., they found that women who use permanent hair dyes and chemical straighteners (relaxer) increase their chances of developing breast cancer by up to 60%.
According to the study, published in the International Journal of Cancer, there are differences in the risks depending on the race.
While white women who dyed their hair regularly face a 7% chance of developing, black women face a much higher risk - 45%.
When it comes to the ‘heavy’ usage of hair dye (at least once every 5-8 weeks) the study showed an 8% increased risk for white women and 60% for black women.
Alexandra White, Ph.D., head of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Environment and Cancer Epidemiology Group and senior author of the study, said: "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."
This is not the first time science has made worrying discoveries concerning hair products which often contain over 5, 000 chemicals. Some can also be found in industrial byproducts and tobacco smoke which all have negative effects on the body.
“Obviously this topic is useful to look at,” said Dr Larry Norton, a renowned breast oncologist. “Should a person stop dying their hair? Everything in life has cost and benefit, there’s always risk in everything you do, it depends how important this activity is for you. I wouldn’t tell someone not to use these products, this study doesn’t give anywhere near enough evidence to prove the products in these products are cancer-causing."
Can black women reduce the risk of breast cancer?
According to the research, the chances of developing this disease go down when the dye is applied by an expert in a professional setting like a salon.
Apart from watching how you apply hair products, you can also avoid the following preventable risk factors:
- Tobacco use
- Excess of calories
- Lack of exercise
- Alcohol consumption
These have all been strongly linked to breast cancer and over 10 other kinds of cancer.