Attention women: Your hairstyle could be killing you

While I’m on the topic of everyday threats to your health, here’s another category you may have never considered: permanent hair dye and hair straightening chemicals.

These common haircare products contain more than 5,000 chemicals—a number of which have links to hormone disruption and gene mutation (like aromatic amines and formaldehyde, for example). And now, research suggests they may actually raise the risk of breast cancer in women who use them.

Which isn’t too surprising when you think about it. In fact, the only shocking thing here is that there isn’t a mountain of research linking hair dye to breast cancer already. As it stands, this latest study is just one of a handful—but needless to say, the conclusions are concerning.

Higher risk, across the board

The data behind this finding came from the prospective Sister Study, which followed more than 50,000 women between the ages of 35 and 74, from the U.S. and Puerto Rico. After just over eight years of follow-up, nearly 3,000 of these women were diagnosed with either invasive cancer or ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS).

More than half of the women in this study reported using permanent hair dye. And this use was linked with a 45 percent higher risk of breast cancer in black women—and a seven percent higher risk in white women.

Use of chemical relaxers or straighteners, meanwhile, was linked with an 18 percent higher risk of breast cancer across the board.

Frequency of use mattered, too—especially among black women. Those who color treated their hair every five to eight weeks faced a 60 percent higher risk of breast cancer than women who didn’t, regardless of the color of the hair dye.

But the risk to white women was significant, too—light-colored hair dye, in particular, raised risk of breast cancer by 12 percent. (Dark-colored hair dye didn’t have the same effect.)

The story was similar for chemical straighteners: Women who used these products every five to eight weeks faced a 31 percent higher risk of breast cancer than those who didn’t.

The devil’s in the details

It’s worth noting that neither semi-permanent nor temporary dyes appear to present the same dangers—unless, of course, you are the one applying it.

Non-professional application of semi-permanent dye to someone else’s hair resulted in a 28 percent increase in risk in this study. And non-professional application of straightener raised risk by nearly the same amount.

As for when breast cancer struck, the use of light dyes was linked with higher rates of premenopausal breast cancer. While the non-professional application of semi-permanent dyes or straighteners to someone else’s hair mostly raised risk of breast cancer after menopause.

Now, I’m not suggesting you need to stop treating your hair altogether—we all deserve to look and feel our best, whatever that entails.

But I absolutely do think it’s worth considering the content and quality of the products you use. Because the reduction of chemicals in your environment is one of the most important things you can do for your health—plain and simple.

And when you consider that one in seven American women wind up with breast cancer? Well, it’s time to take a closer look at your chemical exposure. While hair dyes and straighteners may not be the only explanation, there’s more than enough evidence to suggest that they’re one of them.

So if you can, choose a more natural option. Because as this research illustrates, we simply don’t know what all these chemicals are doing to our bodies. And there’s not a hairstyle on this planet that’s worth risking your life for.

P.S. I also disclose simple, science-backed strategies to fortify your cellular defenses—and stop cancer in its tracks—in my Essential Cancer Protocol. To learn more about this comprehensive online learning tool, or to enroll today, click here now!


“Hair Dyes Linked to Elevated Breast Cancer Risk.” Medscape Medical News, 12/05/2019. (