Does Hair Dye Cause Cancer?

Last week, Los Angeles artist Alexandra Grant was in the headlines for something else besides her artwork and her relationship with actor Keanu Reeves. When Grant went public with her relationship on the red carpet of a LACMA event, the paparazzi exploded. The statuesque artist, unlike so many other female attendees of the event, possessed a head of silver hair. Although many other women who work and exist in Hollywood happen to be around the same age as Grant — in her mid-forties — the majority seem to dye their hair before it turns gray. Grant, however, is opposed to this idea. In a recent Instagram post, she revealed why. After going prematurely gray in her twenties, Grant began to think that hair dye might be bad for her health. So instead of coloring her hair like most women in her situation would have done, she chose to go natural. And recent studies have indicated that she may be right.

Just last week, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) released some sobering studies in regard to hair dye. Studying women who had sisters who had suffered from breast cancer, they targeted women in their 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s. The study took place over a period of eight years. Out of over 46,000 women, there were 2,794 cases of breast cancer diagnosed. Researchers took a look at some of the women’s lifestyle choices, including those who used hair straightening and hair dye products. For women who had used permanent hair dye in the year before the study, the risk of breast cancer increased by nine percent over the women who had not. They were also able to notice some alarming trends corresponding to ethnic groups. Black women in the group who used permanent hair dye found themelves at a 60 percent risk of developing breast cancer.

Taking a look at hair straighteners, the researchers were able to see that women chemically straightening their locks every five to eight weeks ratcheted up their risk to 30 percent. This occurred regardless of race, so it seems that straightening chemicals may be a concern across the board. Some researchers believe that this may have something to do with the presence of formaldehyde, which has often been cited as a carcinogen. No matter what the case may be, scientists will definitely be conducting more studies on the connection between hair dye and cancer.

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