black women risk breast cancer
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Black Women Who Dye or Straighten Hair Are at Risk for Breast Cancer

Every woman has a beauty regime. From women who dye their hair to women who wear no makeup at all, we’re constantly using some sort of grooming product whether it’s body wash, shampoo, moisturizer, etc. We’ve also seen how some of these products contain ingredients that are harmful to our bodies and can have a longlasting negative affect. A new study shows that black women who color their hair or straighten their hair are at risk for breast cancer more than any other group. 

The study, published in the International Journal of Cancer, included questioning 46,709 women (ages 35‐74) and tracking them for eight years. According to the Today show, “At the start of the study, all women filled out questionnaires about the hair products they used in the past year. More than half of all the women, 55 percent, reported using permanent dye and 75 percent of black women said they used chemical straighteners. As researchers followed the women for an average of eight years, they found 2,794 cases of breast cancer.”

Furthermore, black women who use permanent dye “in the past year was linked with a 45 percent higher breast cancer risk,” and it increased to 60 percent “if they colored their hair more frequently — at least every five to eight weeks.”

It is a startling study and one that isn’t completely surprising considering the toxic ingredient found in everyday products, including organic ones. In 2017, studies were released that showed that women of color are more exposed to harsh chemicals in beauty products than white womenOne thing that’s especially troubling and concerning is that experts still don’t know what the key cancerous ingredient is. When we buy hair dyes or other beauty products, there’s no way of telling if one product is safer to use than another, and that’s because experts haven’t narrowed down what ingredient is leading to some people getting diagnosed with cancer. 

“In terms of a specific chemical, we haven’t actually identified the culprit and the formulas change. It’s extremely difficult to pin it down,” co-author Dale Sandler, chief of the Epidemiology Branch at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, told the Today show. 

Sandler suggests that if possible, women should try to use semi-permanent hair dye because it is less toxic. Other helpful tips according to the American Cancer Society, as noted by the Today show: 

  • Always wear gloves when applying hair dye.
  • Don’t leave the dye on your head any longer than the directions say you should.
  • Rinse your scalp thoroughly with water after use.
  • Never mix different hair dye products because this can hurt your hair and scalp.