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Breast cancer linked to permanent hair dye and straighteners

A recent study by the NIEHS (National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences) found that the use of permanent hair dyes and straighteners can increase a woman’s cancer risk by nearly 10%.

The study utilized data from 46,709 women, and found that women who regularly use permanent hair dyes and straighteners were at a greater risk for breast cancer, especially African American women. In fact, African American women had a 60% increased chance of breast cancer, compared to just 8% percent for white women. The results of the study applied only to those women utilizing “permanent” hair dyes, not “semi-permanent” or temporary” hair dyes.

As mentioned above, straighteners pose a risk as well. The NIEHS found that “women who used hair straighteners at least every five to eight weeks were about 30% more likely to develop breast cancer.” While the results themselves are alarming, the co-author of the study Dr. Dale Sandler, stressed that the results of the study do “need to be replicated in other studies.”

As for whether women should stop using permanent dye or chemical straighteners, Dr. Sandler believes it’s “too early to make a firm recommendation…” He does however note that, “avoiding these chemicals might be one more thing women can do to reduce the risk of breast cancer.”

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