Is Hair Dye Worth the Risk of Developing Cancer?

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Blog | Feb, 25 2013

Is Hair Dye Worth the Risk of Developing Cancer?

We live in a world that promotes “eternal youth”.  Whether it is face lifts, specific cosmetics or toxic hair dyes to cover the gray, these tools of the age-defying industry come with a heavy price.

I will be the first to admit, that I have colored my hair since I was in my early 20’s. But after some serious soul searching and research, I have made the decision to never color my hair again. YIKES! That means that I will soon be revealing a whole head of naturally gray hair.  Admittedly, it is a little scary and I certainly will feel pretty vulnerable at first. But I choose to see this as a very positive move towards vibrant health and longevity. If I am truly going to promote and live my message of the 7 Essentials, Reducing MY Toxic Exposure is a must!

The latest review of the chemical make-up of common hair dyes, published in the journal Materials, revealed that ingredients in a range of dyes used in home hair coloring kits and at salons pose a significant potential health risk to people who use them.

British scientists from the Leeds-based company Green Chemicals PLC found that the chemicals in permanent hair dyes can react with tobacco smoke and other common air pollutants to form one of the most carcinogenic compounds known to man

Researchers say that with more than a third of women and a tenth of men regularly coloring their hair, it is “imperative” that the risk of health posed by hair dyes is thoroughly evaluated.

Researchers said that all the information they used in the review was already available and that the study merely “joined the dots” to link hair dye to cancer.

Researchers said that oxidative hairs dyes, which are commonly used in both home kits and in professional salons, contain chemicals called secondary amines, which can penetrate the skin can stay on hair for months or even years after the dye is applied.

The team of researchers said that over time, secondary amines could react with common air pollutants like tobacco smoke and exhaust fumes to form cancer-causing chemicals called N- nitrosamines.

While N- nitrosamines have already been banned for use in cosmetics in the US and in the UK, researchers argue that these toxic chemicals can still be generated via a simple chemical reaction.

 “At this stage, we can’t be sure of the amount of N-nitrosamines produced or the level of risk these compounds pose but it is clear a potential hazard exists,” researcher Professor David Lewis said, according to the Daily Mail.

“In the interest of consumer safety, it is imperative that a thorough and independent investigation is conducted to establish the levels of toxicity of these compounds and the potential risks,” Lewis added.

This is not the first time hair dye has been linked to cancer tumors. Past studies have also linked hair dye to breast cancer, bladder cancer, ovary cancer, brain cancer and leukemia. In 2009, researchers found that women who colored their hair more than nine times a year had a 60 percent greater chance of developing blood cancer. 

Japan Poison Information Center notes that almost all hair colour contains para-phenylenediamine, lethal dose of this is 10g, it is easily absorbed from skin and lung. This chemical is harmful if swallowed, inhaled, or absorbed through the skin. This is reason why the user should wear gloves and goggles to protect themselves. However, the scalp is also skin, therefore, the chemical still get absorbed into the interstitial fluid and bloodstream.

Hair Dye is an endocrine disrupter that promotes cancer

Dr. Sakabe Mitsugu, director of clinical environmental medical centre of KITASATO Institute Hospital finds that hair colour is a kind of endocrine disrupter. He diluted 3 commercial hair colours into 1ppm or 1ppb compared with normal concentration applying to hair. He added this liquid to cells of breast cancer, and found that all of those liquid propagated them.

Hair Dye Promotes Lymphatic Cancer
A research from Yale University shows that long-term use of hair dye promotes lymphatic cancer.

The Environmental Working Group recommends that hair dyes with ammonia, peroxide, p-phenylenediamine, diaminobenzene, and all dark permanent hair dyes be strictly avoided.

I urge you to think twice before applying anything toxic to your skin or scalp. Essential #2 for Healing and Preventing Breast Cancer is to Reduce Your Toxic Exposure.  Cutting out the toxic cosmetics and dyes is a great place to start.






  • Yaaay!!! I’m sure you will look elegant and graceful with “silver” hair. Here’s to more real and naturally beautiful women following your graceful trend! With Love Shirley x

  • There are a few natural health companies out there that sell natural hair dyes, and they can be purchased at health food stores or on line. I use Herbatint Haircolor and have for about 20 years…a homeopathic doctor told me about it! I chgose not to use the commercially available dyes that can cause cancer…luckily I knew about this 20 years ago! Another good quality product is Nature Tints, which I have not tried, as I’m quite happy with the product that I’ve been using for the past 2 decades…