Will using hair really raise your risk of leukaemia?

Should we stop dyeing our hair?

That's the question millions of people asked themselves last week after a new study found that using hair dye more than nine times a year increased the risk of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (a form of cancer of the blood cells) by 60 per cent.

The study also found that women who regularly used dyes before the Eighties were at even greater risk because older products contained toxic ingredients not found in today's hair products.

Women who used dark hair dyes were 50 per cent more likely to develop another type of blood cancer - follicular lymphoma. (Colours such as black, brown and red are thought to be more risky because it takes more chemicals to make the darker shades).

So, is the price of our vanity too high? Hair colouring is hugely popular. In the UK, more than 60 per cent of women and around ten per cent of men colour their hair at some point in their lifetime - either at home or in a salon - according to the Cosmetic Toiletry and Perfumery Association.

Last year, we bought 56 million packs of home hair dye and there were 60 million colouring treatments done in salons. Most people dye their hair between six and eight times a year.

Permanent hair dyes - which don't wash out but leave you with 'regrowth' marks - account for around 80 per cent of the market. The remaining 20 per cent of the market includes non-permanent dyes, such as tints and wash-out colour.

Unlike permanent dyes, which penetrate the hair shaft, non-permanent ones just coat the hair and gradually fade away.

Recently, there were concerns that the widespread use of hair dye - and its consequent presence in the water supply - had increased the risk of bladder cancer in the general population. In a four-year study funded by the EU, scientists at Queen's University in Belfast discovered last year that dangerous elements in the dyes aren't effectively neutralised by water treatment plants - meaning everyone is effectively at risk.

Source - Daily Mail

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