Black women who dye hair more at risk of breast cancer

The study found that African-American women who regularly use permanent hair dye are more likely to develop the disease

Women who regularly use permanent hair dye have an increased risk of developing breast cancer, a new study suggests.

Scientists at US research body National Institutes of Health found that women who use the hair colouring products are 9% more likely to be diagnosed with the disease.

Out of the 46,709 female consumers studied over eight years who dyed their hair every five to weeks, African-American women were 60% more likely to develop breast cancer, compared with 8% of Caucasian women.

The research team found little to no increase in breast cancer risk for semi-permanent or temporary dye use.

"We are exposed to many things that could potentially contribute to breast cancer, and it is unlikely that any single factor explains a woman's risk,” said Dale Sandler, the study’s co-author and Chief of the NIEHS Epidemiology Branch.

“While it is too early to make a firm recommendation, avoiding these chemicals might be one more thing women can do to reduce their risk of breast cancer.”

The report, published in the International Journal of Cancer, found that regardless of race the regular use of chemical hair straighteners increased the risk of breast cancer by 30%.

However, about 74% of African-American women claimed to use chemical straighteners compared with only 3% of white women.

Previous studies have found that cosmetics marketed to women of colour are more likely to contain higher levels of unregulated ingredients, such as mercury, that can lead to premature reproductive development, neurodevelopmental issues and cancer.

A 2017 study revealed black women reportedly ‘suffer more anxiety’ about having ‘bad hair’ compared to white women, and are twice as likely to experience social pressure to straighten their hair.


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