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Hair dye can cause cancer, study shows

The researchers had been trying to link the relationship of these hair products with breast cancer for some time.
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Hair dye can cause cancer
A recent study found that women who use permanent dyes or chemical hair straighteners have an increased risk of developing breast cancer.

The study, published on December 4 in the International Journal of Cancer, concluded that the risk of breast cancer increases with frequent use of these hair chemicals.

The research team, with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, part of NIH, used data from 46,709 women and found that women who used hair dye regularly in the year prior to the study were 9% more likely to develop breast cancer than women who did not use it.

The risk was higher for African American women. The use of permanent dyes every five to eight weeks or more was associated with a 60% higher risk of getting breast cancer, compared with an 8% higher risk for white women. The research team found little or no increase in the risk of breast cancer due to the use of semi-permanent or temporary dyes.

"Researchers have been studying the possible link between hair dye and cancer for a long time, but the results have been inconsistent," said author Alexandra White, director of the NIEHS Environment and Cancer Epidemiology Group. "In our study, we see an increased risk of breast cancer associated with the use of hair dyes, and the effect is stronger in African-American women, particularly those who are frequent users."

The scientists also found a link between chemical hair straighteners and breast cancer. Black and white women who used straighteners every five to eight weeks were approximately 30% more likely to develop breast cancer. Although the risk was the same, the study said, African-American women, are more likely to use chemical straighteners.

"We are exposed to many things that could contribute to breast cancer, and it is unlikely that any factor explains a woman's risk," said Dale Sandler, head of the NIEHS Epidemiology Branch and co-author of the study. "While it is too early to make a firm recommendation, avoiding these chemicals could be one more thing that women can do to reduce the risk of breast cancer."
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