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Can Dyeing and Straightening Your Hair Lead to Cancer?

Can Dyeing and Straightening Your Hair Lead to Cancer?

Uncover the risks of chemical hair straightening and dyes. Learn how they can contribute to breast cancer & other health concerns.

Ms. Muskaan Sharma
June, 24 2023
1839

In our modern generation, most people around us are preoccupied with the beautification of themselves, but have we taken a moment to ourselves and pondered upon the fact that these artificial sources that help us enhance our virtue are in fact the ones that may be the most dangerous to our health and well-being.

Who doesn’t like having long, beautiful, and oh-so-straight hair forever, but did you know, hair straightening treatments contain a number of substances that have been linked to potential health risks? We all have grown up watching movies, mesmerized by the perfect hair of every main character ever, and when we see that we can also achieve the same, we strive for it. Of course, to have perfectly coloured hair or hair with a good colour pop, you need the perfect hair colour/dye, but even hair colours, too, contain a variety of chemicals that are known to be detrimental to human health.

A study by the University of California, Berkeley suggested that application of such products on the scalp, makes an individual more prone to various kinds of skin cancers, while researchers at the National Institute of Health suggest there to be a link between chemical hair straightening and hair dyes leading to an elevated chance of acquiring breast cancer, a major problem for women worldwide. 

Formaldehyde, toluene, lead acetate, and other pollutants have been related to cancer, reproductive disorders, and other health issues. Formaldehyde is a carcinogen that can be absorbed via the skin or breathed, causing irritation, burning, and other health concerns. It is a frequent chemical in hair straightening products, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer has classed it as a human carcinogen. This means that formaldehyde exposure can raise the risk of getting cancer, particularly breast cancer. 

Some compounds, such as para-phenylenediamine (PPD), have been related to an increased risk of breast cancer development. PPD (an aromatic amine) gives the colour in hair dyes, making them so very much attractive, and thus even more so dangerous. According to research at the NIEHS Environment and Cancer Epidemiology Group, it was found that there is a higher risk for women who use PPD-containing hair dyes on a daily basis may be at a higher risk of developing breast cancer, especially those of African American descent.

Chemical hair straightening and hair dyes may contribute to the development of breast cancer in a variety of ways. When we apply these compounds to our scalp, they can enter the bloodstream through the skin. They may travel to many parts of the body, including breast tissue after they enter the bloodstream. Another potential process is the generation of free radicals. Free radicals are unstable chemicals that can cause DNA and cell damage. Free radicals can be produced by chemical hair straightening and hair dyes, which can then lead to the development of cancer.

It is important to note that the usage of these chemicals will not immediately lead to breast cancer, there may be other factors that contribute to the same, such as one’s lifestyle, genetics, etc. However, one should definitely minimize exposure to such products, to avoid the potential risks that come along with them.

 

Ms. Muskaan Sharma

Cancer and Translational Research Centre (CTRC), 

Dr. D. Y. Patil Biotechnology and Bioinformatics Institute (DYPBBI), 

Dr. D. Y. Patil Vidyapeeth, Tathawade, Pune, Maharashtra- 411033.

Email: muskaans2602@gmail.com

(Note: Ms. Muskaan Sharma is a B. Tech. Medical Biotechnology student at DYPBBI and currently working as a final-year dissertation student in CTRC under Dr. Soumya Basu)

 

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