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Hair dyes not linked to cancer risk

Women who have used hair dyes, even for decades, do not seem to have an elevated risk of multiple myeloma

Hair dyes not linked to cancer risk

Women who have used hair dyes, even for decades, do not seem to have an elevated risk of multiple myeloma, a cancer in which malignant plasma cells accumulate in the bone marrow. In recent years, studies have linked the use of hair dyes - in particular, older formulations used before the 1980s - to an elevated risk of certain cancers, including multiple myeloma, lymphoma, (lymph cell cancer) and leukaemia (blood cell cancer). A few risk factors for multiple myeloma have been established, such as older age but some studies have suggested that hairdressers and cosmetologists may also have a higher-than-normal risk. That raises the possibility that on-the-job chemical exposures are involved. Hair dyes used prior to 1980, for example, are known to have contained potentially cancer-causing substances. For the current study, researchers from America looked at whether women's use of hair dyes was related to their risk of developing multiple myeloma. In interviews with 175 women with the cancer and 679 without the disease, the researchers found no evidence that hair dye use presented a risk. Overall, women who said they'd ever used hair dyes were no more likely to develop multiple myeloma than those who'd never coloured their hair. There was also no increased risk among women who'd started using the products before 1980 or those who'd used them for 28 years or more. In addition, no evidence was found that permanent dyes carried a different risk from semi-permanent versions. So far, few risk factors for multiple myeloma have been pinned down and the current findings suggest that hair-colouring is not one of them. However, given the conflicting studies on the subject, further studies are needed to continue looking at the relationship between hair dyes and multiple myeloma, as well as other cancers.
Occupational and Environmental Medicine
January 2009
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