Fact or Myth: Hair Dye Can Cause Cancer?

This is a FACT.

Several studies have indicated that commercial hair dyes may cause cancer.

It seems that the chemicals in the hair dye can cause cancer by being absorbed into the bloodstream through the scalp, and induce genetic changes that may result in:

    • Hodgkin’s disease
    • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
    • Leukemia
    • Multiple myeloma
    • Other types of tumors

A recent statement from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) concluded that working regularly with hair dyes in hair salons and barbershops probably increases the risk of cancer and that long term employment in these establishments is “probably carcinogenic to humans”.hair dye can cause cancer
According to highly regarded holistic practitioner Dr. Andrew Weil:

“Earlier, researchers at Yale University found that long-term use of dark hair dye by women who began coloring their hair before 1980 may increase the risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. No such risk was seen among women who began dyeing their hair after 1980. Here, the difference may be due to the elimination of coal-tar-derived ingredients used in the older products that are known carcinogens. The Yale study was published in the Jan. 15, 2004, issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology.”

“In general, I discourage use of hair dyes containing artificial coloring agents, which to my mind are as suspect in cosmetic products as they are in food. Hair dyes applied to the head are absorbed through the scalp, where there’s a very rich blood supply that may carry them throughout the body.”

However, many individuals who use commercial dye are quick to downplay the risk and to assume that any potentially carcinogenic product would be pulled off the market.

Unfortunately, however, because of a legislative loophole dating to the 1930s, the FDA is unable to take hazardous dyes off the market, and says it needs further information before mandating that hair dye manufacturers print warnings on their labels.

And since dye companies change their ingredient lists so quickly, it’s doubtful that the FDA will ever be able to demand the information it needs.

In truth, the risks of hair dye are less hazardous than some other toxic exposures. “This is not something on the order of cigarette smoking or not wearing seat belts,” says Dale Sandier, Ph.D., of the National Institutes of Health, an epidemiologist who is familiar with hair dye research.

Still, it’s a needless risk to take, especially since non-toxic alternatives are easy to come by.

For hair dye users unwilling to return to their natural hair color, experts suggest using a safe alternative, such as henna, or a natural hair dye made from vegetables, nuts, or other plant parts. Some major manufacturers such as Aveda also produce natural hair colorants for salon treatments.

As these natural, non-toxic products rise in popularity, more and more hairdressers are beginning to specialize in their use. Chances are, if you do a quick search online, you’ll find there’s a hairdresser in your area that uses safe hair coloring products.