Is There A Risk?

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Corey Cianfarano

Have you ever thought twice before purchasing and/or using hair dye (Photo courtesy of Corey Cianfarano, photo credits to Corey Cianfarano)?

Have you ever thought twice before dying your hair? In today’s society, it is a very popular trend to switch up your hair color from time to time. However, there may be a possible link between hair dye and breast cancer. Experts have conducted research to explore this possibility, but researchers want everyone to be cautious that this is still being studied. So, before deciding to switch up your look, you might want to know the effect that hair dye could possibly have on your future health. 

“I feel that the hair dyes with more chemicals could lead to breast cancer. The more natural ones, on the other hand, probably have a lesser risk for such illnesses,” said senior Maddie Gagne.

Hair dye is filled with more than 5,000 chemicals, so it’s hard to avoid them. Studies have shown that the use of permanent hair dye shows an increased risk for breast cancer. Dyes such as these may contain chemicals that are considered to be disrupters to hormones. As a result, these disruptors change the hormonal balance within the body which may change the way in which hormones such as estrogen act and perform within the body. These changes can include blocking or mimicking hormones that are needed for normal function and health. By affecting the hormonal balance like this, the chemicals acting as estrogen or other hormones may possibly lead to an increased risk in the development or growth of breast cancer.

“Maybe it’s having to deal with ingredients [in the hair dye] and their effects on the body,” said senior Kamryn Mattison.

Researchers from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences launched a study called Sister Study to explore this topic and find an answer. This study included 46,709 women in which they studied any possible effects that the dye might have on them. The researchers found that there was a 9% increase in risk for developing breast cancer in women who had used permanent hair dye regularly during the year before entering into the study. Women who were previously not involved with permanent dye did not experience a risk for a drastic change in their health as the others did. However, there is a disclaimer to this study which is that a majority of the women involved have a history of at least one of their relatives having breast cancer in the past. On the other hand, as previously mentioned, the use of temporary or semi-permanent dyes was proven by the study to have hardly any to no increase in risk. Due to this, experts say that going to a salon to get your hair done has less of a risk as well.

“I think it depends on the amount of hair dye you use,” said senior Kait Gary.

Although there is much evidence towards a link between hair dye and breast cancer, experts say that it is not a direct cause-and-effect relationship. This means that there may be a possibility of an increased risk for breast cancer by using certain types of hair dyes, but it does not directly cause breast cancer itself. 

“I don’t think enough regulation is on these dyes, as nothing with that much risk is properly regulated. The people need to know what they’re getting themselves into; if I had known I might not have dyed my hair as much as I previously have,” said Gagne.

Despite all of the allegations against hair dye, researchers and experts don’t want people to be alarmed from the investigations into this topic. They advise women to be cautious and careful if they are choosing to use permanent dyes at home and other possibly harmful products. It is import to adhere to the safety precautions labeled on the packages of hair dyes and to make sure you use gloves when handling products outside of its container or package. However, if you are still worried about its potential to increase risk for breast cancer, it is best to find alternatives, go to a salon, or use temporary or semi-permanent dyes. 

“I think that there should be a warning on every hair dye if the correlation between hair dye and breast cancer does exist, but if people still decide that they want to use it, then that’s their choice,” said Mattison.