Is There Really a Strong Link between Hair Dyes and Breast Cancer?

Is There Really a Strong Link between Hair Dyes and Breast Cancer?

Several studies that tried to establish a possible link between breast cancer to hair straighteners and permanent hair dyes have shown mixed findings. The report of one such study, conducted by the scientists at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) was published in December 2019 in the International Journal of Cancer. The NIH report indicated that the chemical-based hair products increase breast cancer risk among women.

However, the NIH’s study is observational, which is why reviewers give advice to apply caution when reading the conclusions. First off, the study had limitations in determining if straighteners and permanent hair dyes increase the risk of breast cancer.

Secondly, the study did not take into consideration other health and lifestyle factors, such as obesity, post-menopausal conditions, first childbirth, exercise, diet and habits like smoking and drinking of alcohol, as well as genetic history.

Lastly, since it is only observational, the NIH study does not provide information to show the direct cause and effect of the hair products to the breasts.

Method used by the NIH in Determining the Link between Hair Dyes or Straighteners and Breast Cancer

The study involved participants who have used hair dye in a 12-month period prior to their enrollment. Of the 46,709 women who participated in the study, about 6% or an equivalent of 2,794 women had developed breast cancer.

The study suggested that compared to the general population’s 13% risk of breast cancer, those who do use permanent hair dye are more prone by 14.2%. Furthermore, it also indicated that black women who used permanent dye were more at risk compared to caucasian women. It was noted that the study’s number of breast cancer cases in the racial subgrouping is small, as only 208 black women were diagnosed with breast cancer.

For straighteners, the NIH study’s findings might not represent the whole population of women when it comes to ascertaining the risks of breast cancer. Moreover, the study also did not gather data on the participants’ inherited gene mutations, considering there are different frequencies in women of color.

Based on the NIH report, participants who used hair straighteners showed an additional 18% risk of breast cancer when compared to the risks of the general population.

What Do the Reports Mean to Hair Salons and Professional Hairdressers?

Such reports about the potential harmful effects of permanent hair dyes and hair straighteners have not gone unnoticed by many in the beauty service industry. Most professional hair salons have already considered the impact of latest report to salon customers, many of whom are also wary about the possible  harmful effects of chemicals on their well-being in general.

Upscale beauty parlors are now offering safer alternatives for hair coloring and straightening treatments. Here in Florida, a popular hair coloring treatment is the Balayage highlighting technique, a method that merely handpaints the hair color on random sections of the hair. The Look Salon & Spa in Oviedo near Orlando, Florida offers balayage Oviedo women have come to like because the hair colouring technique is not only 100% safe. The balayage gives hair volume yet requiring low maintenance,

Moreover, unlike conventional hair colouring, the balayage method of hair color application is more economical, needing only touch-ups spaced between 8-12 weeks.

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