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Can Hair Dye Cause Bladder Cancer

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Can Hair Dye Cause Cancer & What Types Of Cancer Can Be Caused By Hair Dye

How does hair dye cause cancer?

There are many people around the world who use hair dyes. It is estimated that more than one-third of women who are over the age of 18 years and nearly 10 percent of men over the age of 40 use some form of hair dye. Todays hair dyes are classified as being oxidative or permanent, temporary or semi-permanent. Permanent hair dyes are the majority of all marketed products available today. Due to the widespread use of hair dyes today, the question of whether or not hair dyes cause cancer is important. Research studies so far have been inconclusive and contradictory. So can hair dyes cause cancer? Lets take a look.

Comparison With Other Studies

Hematopoietic cancer, bladder cancer, breast cancer, and lung cancer are among the cancers most frequently investigated in relation to hair dye use.6 Our results differ from reports of a slightly increased relative risk of overall hematopoietic cancer612 . Our findings update the first prospective cohort study of hematopoietic cancer among women who use permanent hair dye conducted in 1994 with participants from the Nurses Health Study.17 With considerably longer follow-up, our findings generally replicate the previous report of no material increase in the risk of overall or major subcategories of hematopoietic cancer, although we note that the previous study preceded the modern WHO classification of hematological cancers .17 The observation of higher Hodgkin lymphoma risk among women who were presumed to use dark colored permanent hair dye is novel and warrants cautious interpretation. This finding is based on a limited number of women and we had insufficient histological subtype information to restrict the analysis to classic Hodgkin lymphoma types, which might have a different cause from non-classical types.34 Additionally, we cannot rule out an influence of residual or otherwise uncontrolled confounding, for example, by factors for which we lacked information .

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What Is The Evidence That Personal Hair Dye Use Is Associated With Risk Of Nhl

A number of studies have investigated the relationship between the personal use of hair dyes and the risk of NHL, with conflicting results. Because the small size of some studies may have limited their ability to detect an association between hair dye use and cancer, a pooled analysis of four case-control studies was carried out . All four studies had obtained detailed information on hair dye use, including dates and duration of use, and on NHL subtype. The pooled analysis included 4,461 women with NHL and 5,799 women who did not have NHL. The results of the study showed that women who began using hair dye before 1980 had a slightly increased risk of NHL compared with women who had never used hair dye, whereas no such increase in risk was seen for women who began using hair dye after 1980.

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Blood Sample Collection And Gstm1/t1/p1 And Nat1 Genotyping

Can Hair Dye Cause Cancer?

All case patients and their matched control subjects were asked for a blood sample donation at the end of the in-person interview. We obtained a blood sample from 160 of 228 case patients, and from 164 of 222 control subjects. Two 10 ml tubes of heparinized whole blood were collected from each study subject. Plasma, buffy coat cells, and red blood cells were isolated, washed and stored at 80°C. Serum was isolated from an additional 10 ml of unheparinized whole blood and stored at 80°C.

Genomic DNA was isolated from blood lymphocytes, and GSTM1 genotyping was performed according to the method as described by Bell et al . . A multiplex PCR protocol was used to analyze for the presence or absence of GSTT1 gene, using a modification of the method described by Arand et al . . All primers were at final concentrations of 50 pmol per 30 ml PCR reaction. The polymerase was rTaq , and dimethylsulphoxide was included. The annealing temperature was 55°C. 36 cycles were used. Products were resolved and visualized on 4% Nusieve gels . No attempt was made to distinguish homozygous from heterozygous individuals for the presence of the gene. GSTP1 genotyping was performed according to the method described in Harries et al . . Informative GSTM1, GSTT1 , and GSTP1 genotypes were obtained in 159 , 157 and 159 case patients and 164 , 162 and 163 control subjects, respectively.

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Q: What Do We Know About Hair Dyes And Cancer Risk

A: Theres been mixed data over the years. But there was a relatively large 2019 National Institutes of Health study that looked at this risk in more than 45,000 women. Called the Sister Study, it examined the relationship between breast cancer and the use of hair dye and hair straightener.

Researchers found that:

  • People who used permanent hair dye regularly had a higher risk of developing breast cancer than those who didnt.
  • Black women may be at higher risk than white women. There was a 45% increased risk in Black women compared to a 7% increased risk in white women.

Some research has suggested that semi-permanent hair dye may affect breast cancer risk as well. Interestingly, the Sister Study showed while the semi-permanent dye was not associated with risk, those who used semi-permanent dye themselves without the assistance of a professional hairstylist had an association with breast cancer risk.

Some data connects hair dye with other cancers. The most well-studied connection is between bladder cancer and hair dye. Some studies have found that people who use hair dyes routinely as part of their work are at higher risk of developing bladder cancer. A 2006 study, however, did not support it as an important risk factor.

What Do Studies Show

Researchers use 2 main types of studies to try to figure out if a substance causes cancer. A substance that causes cancer or helps cancer grow is called a carcinogen.

In studies done in the lab, animals are exposed to a substance to see if it causes tumors or other health problems. Researchers may also expose normal cells in a lab dish to the substance to see if it causes the types of changes that are seen in cancer cells. In lab studies, researchers can control many of the other factors that might affect the results. Still, its not always clear if the results in lab dishes or animals would be the same in humans, for a number of reasons.

Another type of study looks at cancer rates in different groups of people. Such a study might compare the cancer rate in a group exposed to a substance to the rate in a group not exposed to it, or compare it to what the expected cancer rate would be in the general population. But sometimes it can be hard to know what the results of these studies mean, because it is hard to account for the many other factors that might affect the results .

In most cases neither type of study provides enough evidence on its own, so researchers usually look at both human and lab-based studies when trying to figure out if something might cause cancer.

Studies done in the lab

Its not clear how these results might relate to peoples use of hair dyes.

Studies in people

  • People who use hair dyes regularly
  • People who are exposed to them at work

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Why Is There Concern That Hair Dyes May Cause Cancer

Many people in the United States and Europe use hair dyes. It is estimated that more than one-third of women over age 18 and about 10% of men over age 40 use some type of hair dye .

Modern hair dyes are classified as permanent , semipermanent, and temporary. Permanent hair dyes, which make up about 80% of currently marketed products, consist of colorless dye intermediates and dye couplers. In the presence of hydrogen peroxide, the intermediates and couplers react with one another to form pigment molecules. Darker colors are formed by using higher concentrations of intermediates. Semipermanent and temporary hair dyes are nonoxidative and include colored compounds that stain hair directly.

Over 5,000 different chemicals are used in hair dye products, some of which are reported to be carcinogenic in animals . Because so many people use hair dyes, scientists have tried to determine whether exposure to the chemicals in hair coloring products is associated with an increased risk of cancer in people.

Early hair dye formulations contained chemicals, including aromatic amines that were found to cause cancer in animals. In the mid- to late 1970s, however, manufacturers changed the components in dye products to eliminate some of these chemicals . It is not known whether some of the chemicals still used in hair dyes can cause cancer. Given the widespread use of hair dye products, even a small increase in risk may have a considerable public health impact .

Hair Dye Could Cause Cancer

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Women who regularly use permanent hair dye may be putting themselves at increased risk of bladder cancer, new research findings suggest.

The study is the first to show that how often you use hair dyes affects your bladder cancer risk.

Researcher Dr Manuela Gago-Dominguez has conducted a series of studies on bladder patients and healthy women – all of the same age – and found a link between bladder cancer and hair dye.

In the latest research Dr Gago-Dominguez, of the University of Southern California School of Medicine in Los Angeles, and her colleagues analysed 897 cases of bladder cancer where information about hair dye use was available.

They compared these patients with a similar number of adults who did not use permanent hair dye.

The investigators found that women who used permanent hair dye at least once a month were twice as likely to develop bladder cancer, as women who did not use permanent hair dye.

They took cigarette smoking – a known risk factor for bladder cancer – into consideration in their calculations.

The study findings will be published in the February issue of the International Journal of Cancer.

Dr Manuela Gago-Dominguez said: ‘Our novel observations are provocative and carry enormous public health implications.

‘Yet it is a little premature to make any recommendation about stopping the use of permanent hair dyes.’

‘Their measure of exposure is just frequency of use and duration of use, which is not very good,’ said Dr Corbett.

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Permanent Hair Dye Does Not Appear To Increase Overall Cancer Risk Says Recent Study

In a recent study in The BMJ, researchers at Harvard Medical School evaluated personal hair dye use and risk of cancer and cancer-related death. The study authors analyzed survey data from 117,200 women enrolled in the Nurses Health Study, collected over 36 years beginning in 1976. They tabulated information that included age, race, body mass index, smoking status, alcohol intake, natural hair color, permanent hair dye use , and risk factors for specific types of cancer.

Compared to non-hair dye users, participants who had ever used permanent hair dyes did not have an overall higher risk for cancer or cancer-related deaths.

Among specific cancers, there was slightly higher risk for basal cell carcinoma in ever-users compared to non-users. Risk for certain breast cancers and ovarian cancers seemed to increase with longer-term use of permanent dye. Women with naturally dark hair seemed to have increased risk for Hodgkin lymphoma, and women with naturally light hair were observed to have higher risk for basal cell carcinoma.

The authors were cautious in reporting their findings, concluding that further investigation is needed to better understand associations that were identified. In addition, we should keep in mind that association does not prove causality.

Oxidative Or Permanent Hair Dye

Permanent or oxidative hair dyes are activated by mixing a developer or an oxidizing agent like hydrogen peroxide along with ammonia and a coloring agent.

The ammonia is responsible for opening up the outer layer of your hair shaft. This allows the oxidizing agent to enter the hair shaft and removes the natural pigments of the hair, while at the same time bonding the new color to the hair shaft. This helps to permanent change the hair color.

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Does Hair Dye Cause Cancer


It is estimated that the majority of women worldwide, dye their hair at least once in their lifetimes . Although men do not dye their hair in the same frequency as women, around 20% of men worldwide have used hair dye, especially to cover their graying hair.

  • The questions here is: Is it safe for a womens health? Can hair dye cause cancer?

The answer according to several studies seems to be MAYBE YES, with a bit of precaution as most studies did find a link between hair dye use and cancer risk while a few others found contradictory results. According to most researches some cancer types and even hair dyes seem to have a stronger link, as well discuss from the evidence below.

Hair dyes have been speculated to be carcinogenic because of the fact that they contain thousands of chemicals and chemical reactions that could potentially cause or increase the risk of developing cancer. Even though not every single ingredient in hair dyes has been found to be carcinogenic, a certain class of chemicals that act as artificial color pigments, covering the hair with color, have been found to be more carcinogenic than others.

Apart from the types of hair dyes based on the duration of results they offer, the duration/frequency of use and hair dye shade selection may also contribute to an increased risk in developing cancer.

Chemotherapy Or Radiation Therapy

Hair dyes are FILLED with 5,000 Types of Cancer

Taking the chemotherapy drug cyclophosphamide for a long time can irritate the bladder and increase the risk of bladder cancer. People taking this drug are often told to drink plenty of fluids to help protect the bladder from irritation.

People who are treated with radiation to the pelvis are more likely to develop bladder cancer.

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Cancers At Other Sites

A working group assessment by the Internal Agency for Research on Cancer in 1993 assessed the risk of cancers of the cervix , ovary , lung , kidney , brain , salivary gland , and malignant melanoma . Too few studies were available on those cancer sites to allow reviewers to make a conclusion whether personal hair dye use is associated with the risk of these cancer sites. More recently, however, a significant two-fold increased risk of ovarian cancer was observed for women who reported using hair dyes greater than 4 times per year and the risk increased with increasing frequency of hair dye use . In one study of brain tumors, glioma risk was increased 1.7-fold , and those who used permanent dye, a 2.4- fold increased risk . However, a large portion of cases were proxy interviews. In another brain tumor study no consistent association with any brain tumors was noted . Exposure assessment did not heavily rely on proxy interview as in the Heineman et al study .

What Is The Evidence That Personal Hair Dye Use Is Associated With Risks Of Other Cancers

Researchers who reviewed data from 14 studies of female breast cancer and hair dye use published between 1977 and 2002 found that dye users had no increase in the risk of breast cancer compared with nonusers .

Research on hair dye use and the risks of other cancers is more limited. Although some studies have shown associations between hair dye use and the risk of developing or dying from specific cancers, these associations have not been seen in another study . Because of differences in study design, it has not been possible to pool the results of studies of most cancer types to increase the power to detect associations with hair dye use.

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Personal Use Of Permanent Hair Dyes And Cancer Risk And Mortality In Us Women: Prospective Cohort Study

  • Yin Zhang, research fellow in medicine1 2 3,
  • Brenda M Birmann, assistant professor of medicine1,
  • Jiali Han, professor of epidemiology1 4 5,
  • Edward L Giovannucci, professor of nutrition and epidemiology1 3 6,
  • Frank E Speizer, professor of medicine and environmental science17,
  • Meir J Stampfer, professor of medicine and epidemiology1 3 6,
  • Bernard A Rosner, professor of medicine and biostatistics1 8,
  • Eva S Schernhammer, professor of epidemiology1 3 9
  • 1Channing Division of Network Medicine, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Womens Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
  • 2Department of Medical Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
  • 3Department of Epidemiology, Harvard T H Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA
  • 4Department of Epidemiology, Richard M Fairbanks School of Public Health, Indiana University, Indianapolis, IN, USA
  • 5Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center, Indiana University, Indianapolis, IN, USA
  • 6Department of Nutrition, Harvard T H Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA
  • 7Department of Environmental Health, Harvard T H Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA
  • 8Department of Biostatistics, Harvard T H Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA
  • 9Department of Epidemiology, Center for Public Health, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria
    • Accepted 4 July 2020

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