Research by experts at the Medical University of Vienna reveals that hair dye may be one of the biggest cancer-causing agents in people’s everyday lives. The study followed 117,200 women in the US for 36 years. The study found that chemicals from harmful dyes increase the risk of certain cancers.
Hair Dye Is an Occupational Hazard for Hair Dressers
The World Health Organization’s Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) recognizes hair dye as an occupational hazard for hairdressers due to the risk of exposure to cancer-causing chemicals. The agency refers to this chemical exposure as a ‘probable human carcinogen.’
The Risk Expands to Personal Use
The IARCs classification of hair dye as a possible cancer agent is not limited to hairdressers. Before the MUV findings, no data tied the risk of cancer to the personal use of hair dyes. However, the new study confirms that long-term personal use of hair dye carries substantial carcinogenic risk. In this case, the risk is highest among ‘aggressive and frequent’ users of hair dyes. It is also determined by a diverse mix of biological and environmental factors.
The Population and Genotype Bias
Not all hair dye users regularly stand the risk of developing cancer. Researchers found the link between cancer and hair dye to be selective based on:
- User race
- Genotypes and phenotypes
- User environment
- Hair color and type
Women with naturally dark hair are found to have a higher risk of Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Women with naturally light hair have the highest risk of basal cell carcinoma.
Breast Cancer and Ovarian Cancer
The study shows a correlation between the use of hair dye and specific cancers. Most notably, there is an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancers. No link between cancer mortality rates and the use of hair dye was established.
Chemical Exposure From Hair Dye
When a person applies dye into his or her hair, small amounts of the chemicals may get into the skin. Exposure may also occur via inhalation during the application process, as is the case for many hairdressers. After inhalation or infiltration via the skin, these chemicals can alter the behavior of hormones like estrogen. Sudden and drastic hormonal changes can ignite the growth and spread of breast cancers and ovarian cancers.
Users who develop cancer after using hair dye may have legal grounds to sue the brand behind the product.