A new study has found some rather disturbing links between hair dyes, relaxers and breast cancer in black women.
According to the research published by the Journal of Cancer, hair dyes and chemical straighteners have hormone-disrupting compounds and carcinogens which are linked to the development of breast cancer, especially in black women.
Epidemiologist Alexandra White from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), one of the authors of the research said, “researchers have been studying the possible link between hair dye and cancer for a long time, but results have been inconsistent.”
This new research sampled 46,709 women residing in the United States over a period of six years, from 2003 to 2009 aged between 45 to 74.
The catch here is all the participants had relatives with breast cancer, at least one sister, meaning they are already prone to the disease or in a higher risk bracket. About 2,794 of them got breast cancer over the study period.
Black women were found to be more prone to the disease than their white counterparts who permanently dyed their hair. Earlier research into hair dyes sampled mostly white women, but this study revealed that black women who dyed their hair once every five to eight weeks increased their chance of developing cancer by 60% as compared to those who didn’t dye their hair.
On the other hand, white women who had the same routine had only an 8% chance of getting breast cancer. According to previous research, the hair textures of black women may account to the high levels of endocrine -disrupting chemicals that can alter the natural state of their hair.
Although the 75% of black women used chemical straighteners as compared to only 3% of white women, both sects are 30% more likely to get breast cancer if they use chemical straighteners every five to right weeks irrespective of whether they were white, African American, or Hispanic.
This could be due to chemicals that may contain formaldehyde, which has proven carcinogen as an active ingredient and the hair straightening treatment relies heavily on this chemical.
Women 18 years and above at one point have experimented with hair dye and this product contains over 5,000 chemicals which are not readily known to consumers. The downside is, some of these chemicals mutate the genetics of the user which may then disrupt their hormones.
Experts say the hair products on the market need to be adequately tested for additives that modify the body’s hormones before hitting the market.
The sample size of black women for the study was just 9% and the researchers say it may be a small sample which may not allow them to reveal the real risks.
That notwithstanding, the findings are alarming for black women because the chemicals that imitate estrogen, a causal agent for certain types of breast cancer is used in making the hair straighteners which black women have been using for so many years.