Does Your Breast Cancer Risk Go Up If You Dye Your Hair?

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According to the Susan G. Komen organization, in 2017, it’s estimated that there will be 252,710 new cases of invasive breast cancer and 40,610 deaths from breast cancer among women in the U.S. These shocking and sad statistics make it even more critical for women to be properly educated on which lifestyle factors and habits may increase their risk for the disease. And now—during Breast Cancer Awareness Month—one doctor is shining the spotlight on a headline we’ve seen before: Frequently dying your hair can cause breast cancer. 

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Although reports have surfaced in the past that squashed this theory—the Susan G. Komen organization says many studies, including a meta-analysis that combined the results of 14 studies, have found no link between permanent hair dyes and the risk of breast cancer—many experts continue to disagree. 

Dr. Kefah Mokbel, a breast cancer surgeon and professor of breast cancer surgery in London, conducted a study that revealed women who color their hair are 14 percent more likely to suffer from breast cancer. 

Piggybacking on those results, Dr. Mokbel posted a series of tweets on the subject, writing: “Women are advised to reduce exposure to synthetic hair dyes to 2–6 times per year and undergo regular breast screening from the age of 40. It would be preferable to choose hair dyes that contain the minimum concentration of aromatic amines such as PPD (less than 2%). It is reasonable to assume that hair dyes that consist of natural herbal ingredients such as rose hip, rhubarb, etc. are safe.”

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Dr. Mokbel also noted that further research is required to clarify the relationship between hair dyes and breast cancer risk in order to better inform women. Although there’s a hefty amount of science proving his opinions are wrong, we don’t disagree that it is good to be aware of the chemicals in the products you’re using and the foods you’re eating, etc. In all aspects of the beauty world, “natural” isn’t always better, but it doesn’t hurt to be educated.

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