Permanent hair dye and chemical hair straighteners might not be as harmless as they seem.
The National Institute of Health reported Wednesday that women who use these chemicals face a higher risk of developing breast cancer than those who do not.
Based on data from 46,709 women, researchers with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences found that those who use permanent hair dye and chemical hair straighteners were 9% more likely to develop breast cancer.
“Researchers have been studying the possible link between hair dye and cancer for a long time, but results have been inconsistent,” said Alexandra White, corresponding author and 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.”
White women who dyed their hair with permanent dyes every five to eight weeks had an 8% increased risk, but African American women with those same habits had a 60% higher risk of breast cancer.
Researchers found little to no increased risk among those who use semi-permanent and temporary dyes.
Women who used chemical straighteners at least every five to eight weeks, regardless of race, were about 30% more likely to develop breast cancer.
NIEHS Epidemiology Branch chief and co-author Dale Sandler said that it isn’t likely that any one thing could explain a woman’s risk of breast cancer, but avoiding these products could help reduce one’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,” he said.