Relying on the creamy crack and covering up those grays with permanent dye may increase your risk of breast cancer, says a recent report published in the International Journal of Cancer.
For eight years, the Sister Study, which was conducted by the National Institutes of Health, followed nearly 47,000 cancer-free women between the ages of 35-74 who had sisters that had been diagnosed with the disease in the past. Taking into consideration their overall health, lifestyle habits, and hair products they used, researchers found that those who reported that they used permanent hair dye and hair relaxers, 2,800 ended up developing breast cancer.
Looking specifically at how this may impact Black women, the stats seem a bit alarming.
For us, heavy hair dye use (once or more every 5-8 weeks), increased our risk up to a whopping 60 percent, compared to only 8 percent for white women. For casual users, the risk was still at 45 percent. Look directly at hair straighteners, the risk can go up to 30 percent, regardless of race. But here’s the thing: African-American women are more likely to relax their hair (74 percent compared to 8 percent of white women).
So what’s the culprit behind it all?
According to TIME, Alexandra White, an epidemiologist at the National Institute of Environmental Health Science, points to the chemicals in these hair products, which are often not regulated. Also, thicker and coarser hair like ours absorbs the dye better and there has been strong evidence that links “a colorless chemical in hair dye that has been shown to bind to DNA in breast tissue and potentially lead to DNA damage linked to cancer.”
Meanwhile, the research team found little to no increase in breast cancer risk for semi-permanent or temporary dye use. (Good to know.) While researchers stress that more work needs to be done, these findings are important, especially given that Black women are more likely to die from breast cancer than white women.
But before you freak out and throw out every box of color you own, here’s the caveat.
As Good Morning America pointed out, because the women in the study have a family history of breast cancer, they are already part of a high-risk population. That, and the study didn’t find a direct link, but a possible association, which is very different.
ABC News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton told GMA that the best thing to do focus (outside of freaking out) is do the following:
“We know the things that can lower the risk of breast cancer, things like exercise, keeping your weight in a healthy range, minimizing alcohol consumption if you are in a high-risk group and, if possible, breastfeed,” adding, “We have to control the controllables.”
BEAUTIES: What do you think about these findings?