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Do hair dyes increase the risk of cancer?

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Do hair dyes increase the risk of cancer?


There has been an ongoing debate about the safety of hair dyes and whether they can increase the risk of cancer. Dr. Norma Cameli, the Acting Director of the Clinical Dermatology Unit at the San Gallicano Dermatological Institute in Rome, has provided some insights into this matter.

According to Dr. Cameli, the hair dyes available in the market today are safe, and there is no evidence to suggest that their use is linked to an increased risk of tumors. However, two particular substances have come under scrutiny – paraphenyldiamine and formaldehyde.

Formaldehyde and products containing it, such as chemical straighteners, have been banned due to their harmful effects. The European Parliament’s Regulation no. 1223/2009 strictly prohibits the use of formaldehyde in hair straightening products. It is known to cause irritation to mucous membranes and eyes and has been classified as a carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

Paraphenyldiamine, although not yet classified as carcinogenic by the IARC, can be harmful if used at very high concentrations and for prolonged periods. Current regulations require its use at low concentrations, providing a level of safety.

It’s essential to understand that not all hair dyes are the same. Temporary dyes, semi-permanent dyes, and permanent dyes all have different effects on the hair and should be used accordingly.

Dr. Cameli advises that if products with known concentrations and substances are used, there should be no cause for concern. However, it’s important to steer clear of products of dubious origin and content.

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When it comes to homemade dyes, they are deemed safe as long as they are properly rinsed from the scalp. Dr. Cameli emphasizes that leaving the dye on the scalp for extended periods can cause allergic or irritant contact dermatitis, resulting in inflammation of the hair follicle and potential hair loss.

For cancer patients undergoing treatment, Dr. Cameli suggests using temporary or semi-permanent dyes to minimize the risk of irritation and damage to fragile hair. Similarly, pregnant women are advised to use semi-permanent, vegetal, and ammonia-free products for safety.

In conclusion, when using hair dyes, it is crucial to be mindful of the substances present and the type of dye being used to ensure the safety of both the individual and their hair.

Supporting research is also encouraged to further our understanding of the effects of hair dyes and to improve safety measures in their production and use.

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