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Overexposure to Hair Dye May Cause Cancer

Jun 10, 2014 04:45 PM EDT
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Hair dressers, who are exposed to fresh hair dyes and perm on a daily basis, have been found to face a pair of dangerous carcinogens in their work. Experts are now calling for an investigation of common hair products, concerned about the possibility of overlooked carcinogens.

The study, published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, details how researchers found that hair dressers face extremely frequent and unsafe exposure to a pair of aromatic amines called toluidines, which have long been known to be carcinogenic.

According to the study, researchers from the Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine in Lund, Sweden determined this after assessing blood samples from 295 female hairdressers, 32 frequent hair dye users, and 60 people who had reported no using hair dye in the past year or more.

These participants were also asked to provide data on their hobbies and lifestyles, which was obtained through a series of questionnaires.

The researchers had theorized that hair dressers would be exposed to more aromatic amines than the average person, simply due to the nature of the spray-on products they use daily. According to a British Medical Journal release, nearly 90 percent of all commercial hair dyes had contained carcinogenic amines back in the 1970s, but had since been replaced with less harmful products.

Recent findings suggesting that hairdressers are diagnosed with bladder cancer more than the average person had prompted researchers to question if some carcinogens had been overlooked.

However, after analyzing data from all study participants, the researchers found that all three groups appeared to face exposure to a relatively similar number of aromatic amines.

What made the hairdressers unique is that their testing had reported an alarming level of exposure of o- and m- toluidines, which are known carcinogens. This exposure level was also found to "rise in tandem with the number of weekly permanent light hair color treatments they applied," according to the study.

Given these findings, the researchers and their associates are now suggesting that hair dyes and perming products should come under greater scrutiny, as they may be threatening the well-being of those who handle them frequently.

The study was published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine, a publication of the British Medical Journal, on June 9.

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