Can Hair Dye Cause Cancer?

I never put chemicals on my hair until 8th grade when I got a perm. This was a terrible idea because 1. my hair looked awful and 2. the amount of chemicals from that one treatment aren’t healthy. A few years later, I started to get my hair highlighted. Knowing this wasn’t good for my hair, I still continued to renew my highlights every few months because I like the way they look. I still do. I never thought about the effects hair dye can have on my scalp or even my brain, which leads me to the question – can hair dye cause cancer?

According to the American Cancer Society, hair dye can seep through the skin or be inhaled during the process, getting into the body. Hair dressers and people that constantly are around the product are more prone to chemicals entering the body.

Does hair dye cause cancer?

Some studies show possible connections between cancer and hair dye while others do not. The studies that have seen a correlation between hair dye and cancer have been blood and bladder cancer. Scientists usually look at studies done in the lab and among humans so they can get more accurate results.

One study that was conducted involved substances being exposed to animals and seeing if tumors were formed. Another study looked at people with and without cancer, and who dyed their hair and who did not. It is difficult to form a conclusion from both of these studies, since animals and humans differ, and the idea that there could be other factors instead of just cancer patients that dye their hair.

People Exposed

According to the above article by the American Cancer Society, people that are exposed to hair dye constantly are more likely to be diagnosed with cancer. Blood cancer such as non-hodgkin lymphoma and leukemia were linked to the usage of hair dye, but the risk is small. Constant exposure to hair dye can be linked to bladder cancer – mostly in hair dressers. People that get their hair dyed are not as likely to be diagnosed with bladder cancer. Breast cancer has not been linked to the usage or exposure to hair dye.

Should I Use Hair Dye?

Hair dye is regulated by the FDA, but they do not look at every ingredient in the substance before it goes on the market. The FDA has the power to take¬†action if the product is detrimental to someones health or isn’t labeled correctly. However, the FDA does not the ability to force a recall on a product – they can only request one.

Not enough studies have been conducted to confirm if hair dye causes cancer, but there is always a risk. The American Cancer Society suggests to take precautions while using hair dye such as wearing gloves, not mixing products, and never dying eyebrows or eyelashes – you could go blind.

The safest bet is to be careful while using hair dye and try to buy the product with the least amount of chemicals, since it is not confirmed that hair dye can cause cancer. Fragment Of Woman's Head Coloring

4 thoughts on “Can Hair Dye Cause Cancer?

  1. Samantha Liebensohn

    This blog post was interesting because many members of my family use hair dye. It made me concerned for their well-being and safety. I wonder what exact chemicals cause the cancer and how much exposure leads to diseases? How high do your chances get after each use and are there specific techniques/treatments that are more likely to cause cancer? Here is a video going into more detail of the risks of using hair dye:

  2. Nathan O'brien

    I would be very interested to see which ingredients in particular could be responsible for causing cancer. Also, I wonder what type of cancer could develop from hair-dye? Could it be skin cancer? Brain cancer? What if it does not cause cancer at all? I agree with you that since we do not yet know whether it causes cancer, you should be careful when using it. You are right that the FDA cannot force a company to issue recalls, though they can still issue warnings about a product independently. This might sound silly, but I never knew that cosmetics were regulated by the FDA. I find it hard to believe that the FDA would not consider every ingredient in a cosmetic product before labeling it as safe for consumption. I think what you were trying to say is that the FDA does not know the long-term effects that every ingredient has on a human’s health. I started to look into the recall process for FDA approved products a little more just to see how it works and the complications that might come along with it.

  3. Erin Kelly

    In the studies that you read, were there particular brands of hair dye that caused cancer? I know that with a lot of carcinogens, there are often certain brands of products that are extra bad for you. Also, do you know if its made public record if the FDA requests a recall on a product? Sorry for the twenty questions!

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