Avoiding Permanent Hair Dyes And Straighteners: Lifestyle Changes That Can Help Reduce Your Cancer Risk

Scientists at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) recently released a study that found that women who use permanent hair dye and chemical hair straighteners have a higher risk of developing breast cancer than women who do not use these products.

According to the study, published online in the International Journal of Cancer, white women who used permanent hair dye at least every eight weeks during the previous year had an eight percent increased risk of breast cancer, while African American women doing the same saw a 60 percent increase in their risk of developing breast cancer.

The researchers found that semi-permanent and temporary hair dye had little to no effect on breast cancer risk.

The study also determined that using chemical hair straighteners at least every eight weeks increased the risk of breast cancer by 30 percent for both white and African American women, although African American women were much more likely to use these products.

The researchers at NIEHS, a branch of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), examined data from 46,709 women for the study. "Permanent hair dye and straighteners may increase breast cancer risk" nih.gov (Dec. 04, 2019).


According to one of the authors of the study, no single factor determines breast cancer risk, but "avoiding these chemicals might be one more thing women can do to reduce their risk of breast cancer."

When looking to reduce your risk of cancer, it's important to make lifestyle changes that address various risk factors.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some of the steps you can take to reduce your risk of breast cancer include: 1. Maintain a healthy weight; 2. Exercise regularly; 3. Limit or avoid alcohol; and 4. Breastfeed your children, if possible. Following the first three tips can reduce your risk of developing most cancers.

The CDC also recommends that women who are taking or have been told to take hormone replacement therapy or birth control pills, or who have a family history of breast cancer or inherited changes in your BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, talk to their physician about addressing possible breast cancer risks.

Here are some possible signs of cancer to discuss with your health care provider:

  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Persistent or high fever
  • Shortness of breath
  • Unexplained changes in bowel habits
    • Bloody, black or tarry-colored stools
    • Persistent diarrhea or constipation
    • Unexplained urges to have a bowel movement
  • Confusion or personality changes
    • Poor thinking skills
    • Difficulty focusing, sustaining or shifting attention
    • Behavior changes
  • Feeling full after eating very little (early satiety) and continued heartburn
  • Flashes of light in your vision
  • Persistent, nagging cough
  • Ongoing pain that lasts a month or longer
  • Continued and constant fatigue
  • Blood in the urine
  • Changes or soreness in lymph nodes
  • Recent change in a wart or mole or any new skin change
  • Thickening or lump in breast or other part of the body
  • Sores that do not heal
  • White patches inside the mouth or white spots on the tongue
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