Can Hair Dyes & Straighteners Increase Breast Cancer Risk?

Breast cancer is one of the most common types of cancer affecting women. In the United States alone, it is estimated that about 1 in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.

Breast Cancer and Chemical Exposure

Like most cancer types, there is no single cause of breast cancer. It’s often a combination of different factors including genetics, sex, lifestyle, and exposure to certain chemicals.

In one study published in December of 2019 by the International Journal of Cancer, it suggested that permanent hair dyes and chemical hair straighteners could increase breast cancer risk, especially for black women.

Permanent Hair Dyes and Hair Straighteners

The studies revealed that over 30 percent of women aged 18 and older use permanent hair dyes and nearly 75 percent of black women use chemical hair straighteners.

These hair products contain over 5,000 chemicals, some of which are considered to be hormone disruptors.

Hormone disruptors are anything that can affect how estrogen and other hormones act in the body. They could block or mimic them. In other words, they could cause hormonal disruption in the body. 

Many chemical treatments to permanently or semi-permanently straighten the hair contain formaldehyde, a chemical known to be carcinogenic (likely to cause cancer). 

The study further revealed that black women who use permanent hair dyes every 5 to 8 weeks are associated with a 60 percent increase in the risk of breast cancer. Those who use hair straighteners every 5 to 8 weeks are 31 percent more likely to develop breast cancer. 

Should women quit using permanent hair dyes and hair straighteners?

Although the study’s conclusion is based on a large number of participants, this doesn’t mean that you should completely stop the use of hair dyes and hair straighteners. However, you should be cautious about what type of hair products you’re using.

Instead of permanent hair dyes, you may want to use semi-permanent hair dyes instead. And make sure you use gloves and follow the package safety warnings. 

As mentioned earlier, breast cancer is a result of different factors. There are other things to look into – your family history of breast cancer and your lifestyle. 

If you want to know your risk of developing breast cancer, you may talk to one of our specialists. 

To request an appointment, you may call us at (405) 360-1264.