Does Hair Dye Cause Cancer?

Does Hair Dye Cause Cancer?

Does hair dye cause cancer? Many American women, also a small but growing number of men, use hair dyes. You may have heard rumors about the relationship between hair dye use and cancer. Many studies have seen hair dye as a possible risk factor for various types of cancer. Here we will discuss what research shows so you can make comfortable choices for you.

Hair dyes vary greatly in their chemical composition. People are exposed to chemicals in hair dyes through skin contact. There are 3 types of hair dyes:
  1. Temporary dye: This dye covers the hair surface, but does not penetrate the hair shaft. They usually last 1 to 2 times washing.
  2. Semi-permanent dye: this dye penetrates the hair shaft. They usually last 5 to 10 times washing.
  3. Permanent capillary dye (oxidative): This dye causes lasting chemical changes in the capillary axis. They are the most popular type of hair dye because the color change lasts until the hair is replaced by new growth. Sometimes this dye is called coal tar due to some of the ingredients contained in it. They contain colorless substances such as aromatic and phenolic amines. In the presence of hydrogen peroxide, these substances through chemical reactions become dyes. Darker hair dyes tend to use more of these dyes.

Concerns about cancer risk are largely limited to semi-permanent and permanent dyes. Because darker dyes have more chemicals that can cause cancer, these products have the potential to be a major concern.

Does Hair Dye Cause Cancer?

Researchers have studied the possible relationship between the use of hair dyes and cancer for years. Studies have carefully analyzed the risk of blood cancer (leukemia and lymphoma) and bladder cancer. Does hair dye cause cancer? Although some studies have suggested possible links, others have not.

A new study states an association between the use of chemical capillary dyes and an increased risk of breast cancer. The study, published in the International Journal of Cancer Tuesday, looked at 46,709 women aged 35 to 74 who had a sister with breast cancer but were not diagnosed on their own.

Over a six-year period, it was found that hair dye use was associated with a 45% higher risk of breast cancer in black women and a 7% higher risk in white women. This increased risk for black women may be due to various chemicals in hair products, specifically for the hair texture of black women.

What Does The Research Show?

The researchers used two main types of studies to try to find out if a substance causes cancer. (Substances that cause cancer or help in cancer growth are called carcinogens.)

In laboratory research, animals are exposed to a substance (usually in very large doses) to verify whether it causes tumors or other health problems. Researchers can also expose normal cells in laboratory plates to substances to see if they cause the type of changes seen in cancer cells. In laboratory studies, researchers can control many other factors that can influence the results. However, it is not always clear whether the results in a laboratory or dish of animals will be the same in humans for various reasons.

Another type of study analyzes cancer rates in different groups of people. These studies may compare cancer rates in a group exposed to a substance with levels in a group not exposed to it or compare it with what is expected of cancer rates in the general population. But sometimes it is difficult to know what the results of this study mean because many other factors that can affect the results are difficult to calculate.

In most cases, both types of research do not provide sufficient evidence; therefore, researchers often analyze studies in humans and in the laboratory when they try to find out if something can cause cancer.

Learning something like hair dye can be more complicated because not all hair dyes are the same ones that can contain thousands of different chemicals. In addition, the ingredients for hair dye have changed over the years. The initial capillary dyes contained chemicals, including some aromatic amines, which were discovered in the late 1970s causing cancer in laboratory animals; therefore, manufacturers of hair dyes have altered some chemicals in their products. Studying hair dye exposure a few decades ago may not be the same as studying current exposure. In fact, many studies classify the use of personal capillary dyes based on the fact that it occurred before or after 1980.

The American Cancer Society confirms that little research can positively link hair dye to breast cancer, but its website notes that research shows that salon employees have a slightly increased risk of bladder cancer.

Should I limit exposure to hair dye? It is unclear how much personal use of hair dye can increase the risk of cancer if any. Most of the research conducted so far has not found a strong relationship, but more studies are needed to help clarify this problem.

In addition to the recommendations applicable to everyone (do not smoke, eat healthy foods, whether physically active, take regular screening tests, etc.), there is no specific medical advice for current or previous hair dye users. Smoking is known as a risk factor for bladder cancer and certain types of leukemia (as well as many cancers and other diseases), and quitting smoking can improve your health regardless of whether you use hair dye or not.

Some people may want to avoid or limit exposure to hair dye for other reasons. For example, some hair dye ingredients can cause severe allergic reactions in some people. Hair dye can also cause hair loss in some people. Some doctors advise women not to dye their hair during pregnancy (or at least until after the first trimester). It is not known enough about the use of hair dyes during pregnancy to know if this is a problem, but doctors generally recommend this only for safety.