The scary reason why you might reconsider dyeing your hair

Nisean Lorde

A new study suggests that women who dye their hair frequently are 14% more likely to develop breast cancer.

Professor Kefah Mokbel, the lead breast surgeon at the London Breast Institute at the Princess Grace Hospital, observed a positive association between the use of hair dyes and breast cancer risk after combining data from multiple studies as part of a meta-analysis.

“What I find concerning is the fact that the industry recommends women should dye their hair every four to six weeks,” Professor Mokbel said.

He suggests women reduce their exposure to synthetic hair dye to two to six times per year and undergo regular breast screening from the age of 40.

A new study has revealed that women who dye their head are 14% more likely to develop cancer. Photo: Getty Images

“It would be preferable to choose hair dyes that contain the minimum concentration of aromatic amines such as PPD (less than 2%),” he added, noting that women should use products with natural ingredients.

“It is reasonable to assume that hair dyes that consist of natural herbal ingredients such as rose hip, rhubarb, etc., are safe.”

Still, Mokbel concludes that the link between hair dyes and breast cancer rates is only a correlation.

“Further research is required to clarify the relationship between hair dies and breast cancer risk in order to better inform women," he said.

Would you reconsider dyeing your hair? Photo: Getty Images

It isn't all doom and gloom however, with Australian breast cancer surgeon, Associate Professor Sanjay Warrier, telling Be that we should take the warning with a grain of salt.

"Patients need to have perspective when considering evidence from studies such as these that require further research," he said.

"When we talk around the topic of breast cancer risk, the biggest factors are non modifiable. The two biggest are being female and getting older followed by a distant third which is a genetic mutation (due to it not being common). Then lower down the list are modifiable factors such as oestrogen, alcohol, smoking exposure and obesity.

"It is important to also consider that studies such as these don’t necessarily exclude another factor being involved as the reason for the link. An example would be finding an association between melanoma and ice cream consumption when in fact sun exposure is the common link."

He added that, "I wouldn’t recommend any of my patients to stop using hair dye until well designed studies come out."

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