Hair dyes increase the risk of cancer in women: Harvard study

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Using permanent hair dyes to either cover gray hair or to enhance your look is trending for a long time now. But women who use permanent dye, need to note that it can increase their risk of some types of cancer including breast, skin and ovarian cancer, says a recent study.

The study


According to a study conducted by Harvard University and published in The Journal of The BMJ, natural hair colours have found to impact on the likelihood of some cancers.

Use of hair dye is very common, especially among old age groups as they want to cover up their greys. It was found that 50-80 per cent women and 10 per cent men older than 40 used dye in the US and Europe.

To have a better understanding of the risk of cancer due to hair dyes, researchers analysed data of 117,200 women from the Nurses’ Health Study, which included assessment of hair dye exposure.

None of these women have any history of cancer and they were observed for 36 years. Use of permanent dye was associated with increased risk of basal cell carcinoma of the skin. The risk was higher in women with naturally light hair.

The results found an increased risk of three types of breast cancer – estrogen receptor-negative, progesterone receptor-negative and hormone receptor-negative. Ovarian cancer too was linked with the use of permanent hair dyes. The risk increases with the increase in the amount and frequency women used the hair dye.

The risk of Hodgkin lymphoma was also seen with the use of permanent hair dye with women who had naturally dark hair.

The darker colours are said to have higher concentrations.

Though you can use homemade dyes to reduce your risk but here are some things you can follow to colour your hair in the safest way:

– Do not leave the dye on the scalp for more than the recommended time.

– Rinse your head thoroughly with water to remove the dye.

– Make sure to wear gloves while applying the dye.

– Do not mix two different products, until the instructions say so.

– Follow all the instruction written on the product

The most common and dangerous ingredient in hair dyes includes ammonia, peroxide, p-phenylenediamine, diaminobenzene, toluene-2, 5- diamine and resorcinol.

All these chemicals can cause serious skin, eye and lung irritation. These can also cause chemical burns, blistering to the scalp, hair loss and even cancer.

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