Study suggests hair dyes may not cause cancer

July 5, 2005

National report -- A study reported recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests there is evidence countering the widely held belief that people who dye their hair increase their risk of getting cancer.

National report -- A study reported recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests there is evidence countering the widely held belief that people who dye their hair increase their risk of getting cancer. The study's authors, however, say more research is needed to completely rule-out the hair dye-cancer link.

The study, conducted by a team of researchers at Spain's University of Santiago de Compostela, is based on an analysis of 79 case control and cohort studies examining the relationship between personal use of hair dye and cancer.

Among the study's findings:

  • Pooled analysis from 12 case-control breast cancer studies and two cohort studies on breast cancer put the relative risk for breast cancer at 1.06 for dye users versus those who never use hair dye. The risk was lower for people who only used permanent hair dyes.

  • Forty hematopoietic cancer studies were included in the analysis. The researchers reported a borderline increase in risk for users of hair dye, but noted the increased risk was driven by 17 case-control studies that included data from men.

The study's authors concluded that the borderline increased risk in hematopoietic cancers is "too weak to represent a major public health concern," adding that future research should focus on occupational exposures to hair dye to determine if prolonged exposure at high concentrations could increase cancer risk.

-- Compiled by Staff Correspondent Bill Gillette

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