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Local experts say don’t worry about new study that links chemical hair treatments to breast cancer

They say there is more to the study than meets the eye, and say there are more hair care options to explore.

CLEVELAND — A long-time beauty trend could be causing breast cancer, according to a new study from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

The study involved more than 46,000 women and found that women who dye their hair or chemically straighten their hair have a higher chance to develop cancer. All of the women involved in the study had a sister with breast cancer, however the women themselves did not.

A trip to the salon for hair color is normally exciting, but there are new concerns after a study linking some chemical hair treatments to breast cancer.

Dr. Jordan Winter, Chief of Surgical Oncology at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center says more conclusive research still needs to be done.

“The question is whether some of these dye constituents interact with the hormone biology in specific ways that contribute to breast cancer formation,” says Dr. Winter.

The study showed the breast cancer link is higher for black women compared to white women who use permanent hair dye. The chances to develop cancer were also shown to increase if a woman chemically straightens her hair frequently.

Hairstylist at MZ Salon & Spa, Deena Nicely says there are things you can do to increase safety if you prefer to color your hair.

“There’s a lot of different options. There’s ammonia free products, there’s also highlighting off scalp which doesn’t penetrate the skin which is wonderful. There’s even hair powder and sprays that don’t cause discomfort,” says Nicely.

The new study acknowledges that the USDA says it doesn’t have reliable evidence of a link or proof that hair dye or straightener causes cancer.

“There’s a different array and levels of what you’re going to do as far as exposure and there’s a way to be almost not exposed by using the proper technique and tools,” says Nicely.

So if you’re concerned, local experts say you don’t need to be worried.

“I think it is way too early to change lifestyle patterns based on this study,” says Dr. Winter.

It’s also important to note that there are other factors that impact your chances of getting breast cancer, like family history, diet, smoking and more.