NewsYour Health MattersAsk Dr. Nandi


Permanent hair dyes and chemical straighteners may be linked to breast cancer

Posted at 2:05 PM, Dec 04, 2019

(WXYZ) — A new study links hair dyes and chemical straighteners to breast cancer. And that link was significantly higher for African American women.

I believe women should be aware of this research because millions use these products. And also because breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death for American women.

Now breaking this study down, scientists at the National Institutes of Health looked at data from over 46,000 women. And they found that using permanent hair dye was associated with an 8% higher risk of developing breast cancer for white women when compared to non-users.

But for African American women, their risk was significantly higher, in fact, it was 45% higher when compared to non-users. And that number jumped to a 60% higher risk if the product was applied every five to eight weeks or more. Now looking at chemical hair straighteners, these products were linked with a 30% higher chance of developing breast cancer if used every five to eight weeks. And that was for both white and African American women.

What about temporary or semi-permanent dyes?

Well, there is some good news as temporary or semi-permanent dye use were not strongly linked. The research team actually found little to no increase in breast cancer risk. And that could be because these products contain fewer colorless chemicals called aromatic amines. Many of these are carcinogens and endocrine disruptors. So they might increase the risk of breast cancer by binding to breast tissue DNA and causing damage

Should women stop using these products?

Well, breast cancer is rarely caused by one thing only. There’s a long list of factors women need to be aware of like age, genetics, reproductive history, and dense breasts. Also are your exercising, keeping a healthy weight and drinking moderately? But back to the question, in my opinion, women especially African American women should consider cutting back or avoiding these products to help lower their risk.