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Hair dyes and straighteners now linked to breast cancer

<div><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;">Many studies have previously associated hair dyes and straighteners with breast tumor development. Most of them were inconclusive with some having contradictory findings. The variations in study designs, population of women studied and lack of race discrimination (white, color and black) were the attributing factors to controversial findings.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;">However recent studies in 2019 by DePolo in which he looked at a population of 50,854 women (black and white) living in United States and Puerto Rico. it was called sister study where participants included women aged between 35 and 74 years. These women were sisters of patients who had breast cancer but themselves had no breast cancer at the time of recruitment. They were followed up for a period of an average of 8.3 years.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;">These women in the study were asked three questions; </span></p><ul><li><span style="font-family: helvetica;">How often they used permanent, semi-permanent or temporary hair dye or a chemical hair straightener in the last 12 months before joining the study?</span></li><li><span style="font-family: helvetica;">How often any type of hair dye or hair straightener was applied at home?</span></li><li><span style="font-family: helvetica;">Whether the dye used was a dark color, light color or both?</span></li></ul><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;">In this particular study the findings showed that women who used permanent dye in 12 months before joining the study were 9 percent more likely to develop breast cancer as compared to those who didn&#39;t use. Black women who used permanent dyes were 60 percent more likely to develop breast cancer than women who didn&#39;t use any dye. White women who used to dye were 8 percent more likely to develop breast cancer than women who didn&#39;t use any dye. There was little increase of breast cancer risk when semi-permanent or temporary hair dye were used. Women who used hair straighteners were 30 percent more likely to develop breast cancer than women who didn&#39;t use any dye.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;">In conclusion, the study demonstrated that women who used permanent dyes and hair straighteners more frequently were likely to develop breast cancer particularly if they were of black race decent.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;">In a more recent study (May/June 2020) similar findings were demonstrated. These findings should allow us (blacks) to celebrate natural hair among all women and men. We should also avoid hair straighteners. Whereas there are many factors that lead to development of breast cancer in women and men particularly in women, unnecessary use of permanent hair dyes and hair straighteners should be discouraged along with encouragement of good living lifestyle like maintaining good weight, exercising, eating diet heavy on plant based foods to avoid cancers with improved health benefits.
</span></p><span style="font-family: helvetica;"><em><strong>By Dr Ronald Wasike, Consultant Breast Surgeon at Aga Khan University Hospital, Nairobi</strong></em></span>
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