Body

Is your regular hair colour appointment increasing your risk of breast cancer?

This doctor is making some big claims. And worryingly, it's not the first time we've heard it...

By Bettina Tyrrell and Jacqui King
Is it time to go au naturel and embrace the true colour of our tresses, greys and all? According to this doctor’s claims, skipping out on that every-8-week-colour-appointment could be lifesaving.
Professor Kefah Mokbel, a breast surgeon from Princess Grace Hospital in London claims that women who colour their hair are 14 per cent more likely to develop breast cancer. Say it isn’t so! The doctor reviewed studies of whether women who dyed their hair had a greater risk of breast cancer than those who did not dye their hair.
WATCH: Not all breast cancer symptoms come in the form of a lump. Article continues after video...
While the professor admitted that further research was required to clarify the relationship between hair dyes and breast cancer risk to better inform women, he took to Twitter to tweet his most recent claims.
He wrote: "Women are advised to reduce exposure to synthetic hair dyes to 2-6 times per year and undergo regular breast screening from the age of 40."
Professor Mokbel suggests that women who wish to dye their hair opt for hair dyes that consist of natural ingredients such as rose hip and rhubarb. He also said that there is no evidence that hair relaxers increase breast cancer risk.
Actress Emma Stone is a hair colour chameleon. She's experimented with coppery red and strawberry blonde.
While Professor Mokbel is yet publish his findings beyond the Twittersphere, a different study published earlier this year claimed similar findings.
According to the study published in the journal Carcinogenesis, white and African American women who regularly dye their hair dark have an elevated risk of breast cancer.
The study looked at 4,285 African-American and white women, some of which had been previously diagnosed with breast cancer, and others without a history of the disease.
Black women who used dark hair dye had a 51 per cent increase risk of breast cancer and white women who used chemical relaxers had a 74 per cent increase.
A recent study suggests that women who dye their hair dark have an elevated risk of breast cancer.
The research shocked lead author Adana Llanos, an epidemiologist at the Rutgers School of Public Health in New Jersey.
"A lot of people have asked me if I’m telling women not to dye their hair or not to use relaxers," she told Reuters.
"I’m not saying that. What I think is really important is we need to be more aware of the types of exposures in the products we use."
While on the surface, all these claims sound extremely worrying, breast cancer surgeon, Associate Professor Sanjay Warrier who practices at Chris O'Brien Lifehouse in Sydney gives us something important to consider when looking at these studies.
"Patients need to have perspective when considering evidence from studies such as these that require further research," he says.
"When we talk around the topic of breast cancer risk, the biggest factors are non modifiable. The two biggest are being female and getting older followed by a distant third which is a genetic mutation (due to it not being common). Then lower down the list are modifiable factors such as oestrogen, alcohol, smoking exposure and obesity."
Professor Warrier says it's important to also consider that studies such as the ones mentioned here, don’t necessarily exclude another factor being involved as the reason for the link.
"I wouldn’t recommend any of my patients to stop using hair dye until well designed studies come out," he added.
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  • undefined: Bettina Tyrrell and Jacqui King