Hair Dye

Lots of people dye their hair, but does hair dye cause cancer? The answer is not completely clear at this time because the research varies. In recent years, scientists have gained a much better understanding of what causes cells to mutate and turn malignant. Cigarettes and sun exposure are two known causes of cancer, but new research is revealing interesting facts on who might or might not be susceptible. One of the things under investigation is the potential link between hair dyes and cancer.

Women and men regularly dye their hair to cover gray or as a change of pace. Common forms of hair dye include:

  • Temporary dyes: These dyes last for only one to two hair washings. The dye does not actually penetrate the hair shaft and is considered milder.
  • Semi-permanent dyes: A semi-permanent dye does enter the hair shaft, but will last for only about five to 10 washings before disappearing.
  • Permanent hair dyes: Permanent dyes are chemicals that reach deep into the hair shaft  They are popular because they are permanent and do not wash out. In fact, your hair must grow out to get rid of the dye.

Permanent hair dyes are the focus of most cancer studies. They are sometimes called coal-tar dyes, and contain amines, phenols, hydrogen peroxide, and other chemicals. The darker the hue of the dye, the more chemicals it contains.

10. Natural Hair and Cancer

Hair Colors

In one study carried out to discover if hair dye is safe or not, researchers found that individuals appear to be more at risk of certain forms of cancer depending on their natural hair color. The Medical University of Vienna study looked at 117,200 U.S. women to determine if dyeing your hair might cause cancer. Interestingly, they found “hardly an increased risk”.

9. Hair Color and Cancer Risk


Researchers found that women who have naturally dark hair appear to have an increased risk of developing Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which is a cancer of the body’s lymphatic system. Interestingly, women with light hair have a greater risk of basal cell carcinoma, which is a type of skin cancer.


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