The Connection Between Hair Dye and Breast Cancer

The Connection Between Hair Dye and Breast Cancer

Did you know Kristen Stewart, star of the Twilight series, famous for her raven locks, actually has strawberry blonde hair? Scarlett Johansson, who we’re guessing you know as a blonde, is a natural brunette. And Katie Perry? Also originally blonde.

How about your hair? If you can’t remember what your hair’s natural color (or texture) looks like, a study published in Carcinogenesis shows it would be a good idea—with a nod to Cindy Lauper—to let your true colors go shining through.

Researchers looked at the hair product use data on over 4,000 women and found dark hair dye shades were associated with a 51 percent increased overall risk of breast cancer and a 72 percent increased risk of estrogen-receptor positive breast cancer among African Americans. The researchers think it may be because darker dyes are more likely to be contaminated with chemicals such as endocrine disruptors and potential mutagens that have a destructive effect on cell genes. Also high-risk for some—hair relaxers. Their use is associated with a 74 percent increase in breast cancer in Caucasian women—but not African-American women. Go for both dark dye and hair straighteners? The risk jumps even higher.

So, before you turn your tresses brunette or raven, talk to your doc about your risk of breast cancer, and whether it makes sense to avoid dark hair dye. And we suggest everyone consider avoiding chemical relaxers. But if you do use one, know that lye-based relaxers are considered most dangerous.

Medically reviewed in July 2018.

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