Permanent Hair Dyes Linked to Higher Leukemia Odds

A new study suggests people who spent years using older permanent hair dyes may have somewhat higher odds of developing leukemia. Among men and women surveyed in the late 1980s, those who had used permanent hair dyes prior to 1980 were more likely to develop leukemia than adults who had never dyed their hair.

Acute leukemia is a quickly progressing form of leukemia in which immature, non-functioning blood cells accumulate and crowd out normal cells. Hair dyes have long been studied as a potential risk factor for a number of cancers, but research has been conflicting. Older formulations contained potentially cancer-causing chemicals, and there is evidence tying hair dyes to the risk of blood-related cancers such as leukemia and multiple myeloma. Not all studies have come to this conclusion.

The new study, that compared 769 acute leukemia patients with 623 adults without the disease, found men and women who had used permanent dyes one to five times per year for 15 years or longer were more than twice as likely to develop leukemia as people who had never dyed their hair.

Temporary hair dyes that wash out with a few shampoos and hair dye use, beginning in 1980 or later, were not linked to the disease.

Yahoo News July 19, 2004

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