Can Permanent Hair Dyes Cause Cancer? Study Says No.

permanent hair dyes
Credit: Australian Times

Many people prefer coloring their hair than accepting the white strands as they age. Despite the fact that permanent hair dyes contain several carcinogenic compounds, people have never left it. However, a major concern is about its safety. Are they safe to use? Do they cause cancer? As per a recent study, the answer to all the questions is no.

The findings of the study “Personal use of permanent hair dyes and cancer risk and mortality in US women: prospective cohort study” appeared online on 2 September in the journal BMJ.

Different Types of Cancer Risk with Permanent Hair Dyes

Researchers for the study kept a health track of 117,000 women from the United States for 36 years.

The analysis confirmed no risk of brain, bladder, blood, colon, immune system, kidney, and lung cancer subtypes with the use of permanent hair dyes.

Dr. Yin Zhang was the lead author and a researcher in medicine with Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. He asserts that there is no significant link between permanent hair dyes and cancer risk or their mortality rate.

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However, the researchers noted a slight increase in the risk of most types of skin and breast cancer. There was a slight increase in the risk of basal cell carcinoma, some types of breast cancer, and ovarian cancer.

Moreover, the researchers also reported a minor increase in the risk of Hodgkin lymphoma, but specifically in women with dark hair. The researchers were unable to spot the problem. However, they suggest it might be due to a higher amount of harmful chemicals in darker color hair dyes.

Use of Hair Color More in Asia than Europe

According to the researchers, 50 to 80 percent of the women in America and Europe, aging above 40, are more likely to get permanent hair dye. The ratio for men (one in ten) is comparatively quite less.

The FDA calls hair dyes as a beauty product in America, updates the American Cancer Society. Still, the FDA emphasizes and keeps an eye on manufacturers to design out safe hair dyes.

Almost 80% of women prefer Permanent hair dyes than temporary or semi-permanent in America. The percentage is even higher in Asia.

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Zhang says this is so because temporary dyes last only two washes and semi-permanent ten to fifteen only. However, permanent hair dyes are accused of containing more carcinogenic compounds like aromatic amines and have the risk of developing cancer.

Studying Hair Dyes is a Complicated Task

The pre-existing studies have raised concerns over the use of permanent hair dyes, linking them to an increased risk of cancer.

The ACA asserts that the results can differ as studying hair dyes and its associated effects is definitely not a piece of cake. There are hundreds of brands, and the ingredients and their composition differ largely. In addition, the composition may also fluctuate over time.

ACS like reports of some 1970’s animal studies, which found permanent hair dyes to contain few cancer-causing aromatic amines. As a result, many manufacturers started producing dyes without amines.

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In a recent study, all the women were questioned about their health and frequent use of hair dyes. The lead author asserts that using permanent hair dyes does not have a significant impact on cancer risk.

However, since the research is only observational, there is a need for more studies and investigations. ACS does not share any medical advice for using dyes. However, Zhang asks women to carefully follow the instructions, whether it is about any safety gadget, duration of application, or rinsing it with water to reduce any risk.

Adeena Tariq Lari
The author is a graduate of dental surgery from the Dow University Health Sciences, Karachi. She has an academic background in content writing as well as English literature, giving her an edge in the field. Adeena is always curious about physical and mental health. She is always passionate about research and delivering high-quality reliable content to users.