Study Links Hair Dyes, Cancer

Permanent hair dye risks breast cancer

Permanent hair dye and straighteners may increase breast cancer risk

"Researchers have been studying the possible link between hair dye and cancer for a long time, but results have been inconsistent", she said. An 18% higher risk was seen among women who used chemical straighteners.

Using data obtained from the Sister Study, researchers found that permanent dye use was associated with 45% higher breast cancer risk in black women and a 7% higher risk in white women.

For example, Browne suggests doctors and patients discuss the use of hair products like dyes and straighteners along with other aspects of a "social history" like alcohol consumption, smoking, obesity and living near environmental contaminants.

According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, Ghana has an incidence rate of 2,260 per 100,000 women and 1% of cases of breast cancer is in men.

The study, published Tuesday in the International Journal of Cancer, is making headlines but it does not mean that all women need to immediately stop using hair dyes and straightening products, according to ABC News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton.

NEIGHMOND: The risk increased even more among black women who dyed their hair frequently, every one or two months.

On the plus side, the researchers did uncover a handful of lifestyle tweaks that can help counteract the heightened risk.

A new study conducted by government scientists has found that women who use permanent hair dye and chemical straighteners may be at an increased risk of developing breast cancer than those who don't use such products. "The risk with at-home treatments was higher than salon treatments, probably due to increased chemical exposure to the hands and to fumes in an enclosed space", she noted. Both black and white women who used hair straighteners were about 30% more likely to develop breast cancer than those who didn't use the products.

WHITE: For the chemical straighteners, one of the big concerns there is formaldehyde, which is a known carcinogen.

The study findings should be understood in context, says Dr. Otis Brawley a medical oncologist with Johns Hopkins University.

Erin Nau, a licensed clinical social worker with the Adelphi Statewide Breast Cancer Hotline, says it can't be determined what exactly causes cancer. All of the women had a sister who'd been diagnosed with breast cancer, but they didn't have breast cancer themselves at the start of the study.

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

"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", Sandler said.

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