Hair Dye and Your Breast Cancer Risk

Many factors determine our risk of breast cancer. Some factors we cannot control, such as our age. But there are also controllable factors, such as smoking. Could our hair color choices be one of those controllable factors? A recent study found a link between hair dye products and breast cancer risk.

Controllable Breast Cancer Risk Factors

Understanding controllable breast cancer risk factors may help to minimize our risk. Although we cannot change our age or family history, we can manage our lifestyle and some environmental factors.

How much we exercise, our weight, drinking alcohol and smoking are among the controllable factors. And of course, we may be able to control our exposure to certain chemicals that could increase our breast cancer risk.

Researchers recently discovered that some chemicals found in hair dyes are potentially among the controllable breast cancer risk factors. By understanding the results of their study, we can make informed decisions on hair dye products.

Hair Dye Chemicals and Breast Cancer Risk

To analyze how hair dye products may affect our breast cancer risk, researchers looked at data from more than 45,000 women between ages 35 and 74. Although none of those women had experienced breast cancer, every woman in the study had a sister diagnosed with breast cancer.

The study followed up on these women for more than 8 years. The researchers found that hair dye users typically were younger, more apt to smoke and use oral contraceptives, and had less education.

The study showed that overall, women who used permanent hair dye products frequently in the year prior to the study were 9% more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer than the participants who did not use such products.

Researchers also noted that Black women who used permanent hair dye products every 5 weeks to 2 months or more had a 60% higher risk of breast cancer. White women who paralleled that permanent hair dye product use experienced an 8% higher risk. However, the study also indicated that products branded for Black women tended to be manufactured with more estrogens and endocrine-disrupting compounds so Black women should probably be especially careful and consider their hair routines in relation to their breast cancer risks.

Making Smarter Hair Dye Decisions

The hair dye study also contained empowering information for those of us who want to color our hair without significantly raising our breast cancer risk.

Researchers found minimal to no risk of breast cancer for women who use temporary or semi-permanent hair dye products. In addition, the participants who had their hair dyed in professional hair salons had lower risks than those who used permanent hair dye products at home. Of course, this might be especially challenging for Black women looking to achieve certain effects, too. But it does provide a starting place for discussion with hairstylists and manufacturers.

What are some hair color options that may minimize breast cancer risk even more? Consider heading to the kitchen for homemade hair dye solutions:

  • For red-orange tints, combine carrot juice with olive or coconut oil. Apply to hair, wrap tresses in plastic, and leave it for an hour. Rinse hair using apple cider vinegar.
  • To darken hair and hide some gray or silver strands, make a cup of strong, dark-roast coffee. Mix one-half cup of coffee, 2 tablespoons of coffee grounds, and 1 cup of hair conditioner (choose a leave-in type). Apply to hair, wait an hour, and wash thoroughly.
  • To lighten hair, make chamomile tea by steeping 1/2 cup of chamomile flowers in boiling water for 30 minutes. Strain out the flowers, wash hair normally, and pour the cooled tea mixture through damp tresses. The chamomile rinse should be repeated over time—10 times or more—to see results. With each application, wait at least 15 minutes before washing out the tea.

Experts say that multiple factors contribute to breast cancer risk, some of which we can control. By choosing temporary, semi-permanent, or homemade rather than permanent hair dyes, we may minimize our risk. For Black people, it may help to research the ingredients and to look for those products with fewer endocrine disrupters. But the key here in all cases is to take control and make choices deliberately. To get help with understanding your personal risk for breast cancer, be sure to visit a doctor.

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7/30/2020 7:00:00 AM
Wellness Editor
Written by Wellness Editor
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