Do you frequently color your hair or dye your hair? Do you test out with your hair color every now and then? If you answer yes, then you might not be alone!
The use of hair dye or hair color is fairly common these days. In fact, Henna has contained hair dyes for darkening gray hair ever since 4000 years ago. A lot of hair dyes used before 1980 had tar-like chemicals to darken the hair color. There have been a lot of changes in the chemicals used to make dyes. But still, few ingredients might pose a cancer risk.
This leads us to a very important question- Is hair dye/color carcinogenic?
What studies say?
Many researchers have been investigating the possible association between hair dye usage and cancer risk for several years. Some aromatic amines have proved to be cancerous in lab animals. In humans, studies have looked closely at the risks of blood cancers (lymphomas and leukemias), breast cancer and bladder cancer, but have mixed or conflicting results.
Some studies have shown mixed results regarding hair dye use and cancer. These research articles included people who frequently dye or colored their hair or those who are routinely exposed to hair dyes at work/salons. The most persuasive evidence has been found for bladder cancer.
Let’s see what some of the researches present us:
Hair dyes and bladder cancer:
As assessed by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in the year 1993, a high risk of bladder cancer was found in barbers and hair colourists who are most prone to exposure to chemicals in hair dyes. Contradictorily, a study of >45,000 hairdressers found no such increase in risk of bladder cancer in hairdressers. Till then, studies have revealed a minor but fairly consistent higher possibility of bladder cancer. But, people who have their hair dyed did not have an increased likelihood of bladder cancer.
Hair dyes and breast cancer:
A 2002 study by Yale school of Public Health found no link between their hair colour use and progression of breast cancer. This conclusion was based on an interview of about 1200 women out of which half of them were diagnosed with breast cancer and half were unaffected by this ailment. They were asked questions if they have colored their hair, which colours and products they used, and for how long have they been using the hair dye and how frequently do they use it.
Hair dyes and Leukemias and lymphomas:
Women who used hair dye especially before 1980 and/or who used darker colors had an increased risk of certain types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Similar results have been portrayed in few studies regarding leukemia risk. Keeping in view the mixed results, the effect of hair dye on blood-related cancers is most likely to be small.
This leaves us with a very important question: To use or not to use hair dyes or hair colors? Should I restrict my exposure to hair colour?
As for some, hair dye is used just for changing the looks, for some it may seem unavoidable (for gray hair coverage, of course!).
The limited and inconsistent studies on the use of hair dyes and cancer risk demands extensive research for a much clearer picture from where we stand today.
The bottom line
People who dye their hair are unlikely to be more prone to cancer. If you are still worried and still keen on getting your hair color done, make sure that you dye your hair in a proper ventilated area or hair salon, so as to lessen the exposure to the fumes from the hair dyes.
You can also explore, ‘Reduce the risk of bladder tumor: Lifestyle modifications’