New research from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has found that the use of permanent hair dye and chemical hair straighteners were positively associated with higher rates of breast cancer. That increased association is most pronounced among Black women, most likely due to the fact that the products they typically use contain more hormonally-active compounds that can disrupt endocrine function and lead to the formation of breast cancer cells. On top of that, Black women use these hair products more frequently than women of other races and are therefore further exposed to the harmful chemicals, according to the study, which was published in the International Journal of Cancer on Wednesday.
Between 2003 and 2009, the study’s researchers studied health data from 46,709 women between the ages of 35 to 74, all of whom had at least one sister who’d been diagnosed with breast cancer, but who had no history of breast cancer themselves. The study was adjusted for a handful of factors—age, menopausal status, race, ethnicity, education, BMI, smoking history, oral contraceptive use, and age of first birth—and the researchers came to the same conclusion: That women who regularly used permanent hair dye were associated with a greater rate (by 9 percent) of breast cancer, compared to those who didn’t use hair dye.
Additionally, Black women who used permanent hair dye in the year before the study were linked to a 45 percent higher rate of breast cancer, whereas white women were associated with a seven percent greater rate. The more frequently they used hair dye, which the women self-reported via questionnaires and telephone interviews during the study, the greater their rate of breast cancer was: Black women who used permanent dye every five to eight weeks were associated with a 60 percent increased rate of breast cancer, and white women’s association rose by eight percent. Women who used chemical hair straighteners in the year prior were associated with 18 percent higher incidence of breast cancer, and those who used them every five to eight weeks were 31 percent more likely to develop breast cancer. The breast cancer association connected to the straighteners was fairly consistent across races.
The researchers suspect the link between hair dyes and chemical straighteners and an increased association of breast cancer can be traced back to the toxic ingredients in hair products that we inhale and absorb through our skin during use (many hair dyes and straighteners contain more than 5,000 chemicals, some of which are known to induce tumors in rats). The products Black women use more frequently than women of other races contain more endocrine-disrupting chemicals, which may increase the cancer association. Most of these harsh chemicals are not even listed on the product labels, making it nearly impossible for consumers to know exactly what they’re being exposed to.
The vast majority of previous studies looking at the health effects of hair dyes and chemical straighteners have studied white women only, which is a major issue, given the urgent need to understand the racial disparities contributing to breast cancer cases among women of color across the United States. While breast cancer rates are high among all races—one in eight U.S. women are diagnosed in their lifetime—breast cancer incidence in Black women has been increasing in recent years. Black women, who continue to be extremely medically underserved in our health care system writ large, are also more likely to be diagnosed at a later stage and die after diagnosis than white women with breast cancer.
“It is important to include women of all races [in breast cancer studies], because breast cancer risk and mortality tends to differ by race. In the U.S., African American women are more likely to develop more aggressive types of breast cancer,” corresponding author Alexandra White, Ph.D., head of the NIEHS Environment and Cancer Epidemiology Group, told VICE
Until we have even more evidence, the researchers say avoiding these types of hair products is one step people can take to lower their overall risk of breast cancer. “These findings suggest that women should consider their use of hair products in light of the fact that chemicals in hair dye and chemical straighteners may influence their risk of developing breast cancer. Chemical hair products are just one of many factors that may influence a woman’s chances of getting breast cancer,” White said.
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Stressed Students, Bridesmaids Drama, And More: An Advice Column From A Total Amateur
Hi! A while ago I asked the BuzzFeed Community to tell me a problem they’re having, so that I — a person with absolutely zero professional qualifications to help anyone — could give them advice. So, here are the results! NBC 1. “Dear Andy,I have NO idea where I should go to school… I’m applying…
Hi! A while ago I asked the BuzzFeed Community to tell me a problem they’re having, so that I — a person with absolutely zero professional qualifications to help anyone — could give them advice. So, here are the results!
I have NO idea where I should go to school… I’m applying to 12 schools, 10 on the west coast and two in BC. I’m a high achieving student (I’m in five AP classes, president of two clubs, volunteering and a job, etc.) and I don’t want to go somewhere that’s all about the pressure, but I still want a high quality education. I’m so lost, help!”
—The Overwhelmed Student
You posted this just to dunk on all of us academically, didn’t you?
Kidding. In all seriousness, you can get a very good education at a bunch of different schools. And when you’re done, you’ll have a degree that probably nobody will ever verify! In my completely amateur opinion, the only reason people think the “Ivy League” schools are better is because a lot of wealthy, well-connected people go there (and have gone there), and therefore when you graduate from one, you’re more likely to get in at some fancy law firm or whatever because of your connections. So if you aren’t planning on being like, IDK, the CFO of Waystar Royco or something, just pick the school that you really want to go to. Where are you going to be happy living? Is one of the schools in a city you already want to move to and/or the city that has jobs in your future profession? Is it important for you to be close to home? How many Wendy’s are there on campus, and do they carry Spicy Nuggets? These are the questions you should be asking.
Oh, wait, actually…forget all that. Go to the school that will cost the least when you factor in tuition, room & board, and any scholarships you might get. Student loans are a curse and you want as little of them as possible. In the end, you might not even end up doing the thing you studied in college. Wanna know what degree I have? A BFA in Theater Performance. An acting degree. And now here I am, writing for a website. You’ll be fine.
I got married this summer, and I decided to choose only family to be my bridesmaids. For me this included three female cousins and my (now) sister-in-law. My husband, on the other hand, decided to do a mix of family as well as friends from high school for his groomsmen. I had no problem with this at all.
I had a few friends who I knew would expect to be bridesmaids, so I made it clear to them from the very beginning that I would be choosing family only as to not have a huge wedding party, but I told them they were not any less important to me and that I still wanted them to be involved in the wedding as much as they felt comfortable with. Most of the friends I had this conversation with were very understanding, however one straight up told me that she was disappointed (this was two years before the wedding).
Now it’s been a few months since I got married and this friend (a friend from childhood) started talking about the wedding. She told me she felt left out of the wedding since she wasn’t part of the wedding party. It particularly bothered her that my husband included friends and I didn’t. She then proceeded to tell me that it was difficult for her to be there the day of my wedding because of these feelings. AT MY WEDDING. She also included the fact that she didn’t want to upset me and that it doesn’t change our friendship. But if that is the case then why say anything in the first place? I’ve already said one too many times the reason for my bridesmaid choices and how important she is to me regardless. And she says she understands. I just wish she would let it go. Ever since this conversation I feel like I’ve been seeing her in a whole new light.
I do care about her feelings, but I stick by my decision and I don’t regret anything. I feel like I’ve done everything I can to make her feel better.”
—The Besieged Bride
[TL;DR: Bride had only family as bridesmaids, groom had some friends in the mix, bride’s childhood friend felt left out and complained about it a few months after the wedding.]
Question one: How drunk was your friend when she brought this up to you? If she was like, a 6 or more out of 10, I say let’s give it a pass and hope she got it out of her system.
Question two: Has your friend had a wedding of her own yet? If yes, then she should’ve understood the situation, because wedding planning is a special kind of hell and inevitably you have to make difficult decisions like this one that might hurt people’s feelings. So if you’ve planned your own wedding, you know the deal and you’re able to say to yourself, “It’s their wedding, I’m just going to be supportive and have fun.” If she hasn’t gotten married yet, she’ll realize later that it was totally inappropriate to complain about this to you. Hopefully.
I have been taking so many of the relationship quizzes on BuzzFeed but they all say I’m single. The major problem is I have an S.O. Is she just faking or am I?? Help me!! Is my girlfriend not actually mine or are we real?”
—The Quizzical Quiz-Taker
You’re not real. This is all a simulation.
—Andy (or am I?)
I’m not sure where to live. I live in Milwaukee, WI, right now. Moved here three years ago for school, but that fell through because Milwaukee is friggin expensive. My family wants me to move back to the other side of the state, towards Minneapolis/St. Paul. What should I do?”
—Meandering the Midwest
Get the fuck out of there, it’s so cold! Listen, I used to live in Michigan, and it was depressing because it was grey and miserable nine months out of the year. Now I live in Southern California, it’s sunny and beautiful and my vitamin D levels are through the roof. Migrate south, seriously.
But if you HAVE to stay, I will say that everybody who lives in Minneapolis seems to LOVE Minneapolis for some reason.
My problem is that I struggle with feeling attractive. I started taking birth control when my boyfriend and I started dating (six years ago). I started gaining the weight right after. I’m now a size 12 and my boyfriend is a slender guy. I haven’t felt attractive in the last year. I gained so much weight at one point I was a size 16. I’m back to a 12 and trying to lose weight again. I don’t feel sexy or beautiful in any way. I prefer to keep my shirt on during sex now. I don’t know why my boyfriend still finds me attractive. I have a tummy, I have rolls when I sit down, I just don’t know what he sees anymore. Any advice you could give me would be much appreciated.”
—Struggling With Size
First off, don’t worry about your boyfriend. Clearly he finds you attractive, and when you actually care about someone, the size tags on their clothes don’t matter to you at all. Appreciate that fact and find some security there.
Now, consider the possibility that if your boyfriend finds you attractive at any size, you can too! It’s not easy. It requires shedding every bit of toxic influence that the media and our society overall has thrown at you for your entire life. That takes time and work.
But if you are worried about your physical health at all, consult a doctor. There are many different types of birth control and like 40 different pills, and everyone reacts to each one differently. It can take time to find the right one, and not every doctor is going to be helpful about it. Advocate for yourself if you’re unhappy with your medication. You may have done all of this already and I’m just sitting here mansplaining BC to you, but if so at least you can cross that off your Mansplaining Bingo Card.
That’s it for this week. But if you’re having a problem that you need advice about, let me know! It could be anything: petty arguments that you need a judge to decide who was right and who was wrong, help making life decisions, relationship issues — I’m your completely unqualified man. Email email@example.com (for total anonymity) or leave a comment here!