A Swedish study has linked the frequency of exposure to hair dye and perm use to elevated levels of carcinogens in hairdressers’ blood. The results add to earlier findings suggesting that individuals in this occupation face higher-than-normal risk for bladder cancer.
Researchers from the Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine in Lund, Sweden sought to measure long-term exposure among hairdressers to aromatic amines both known and suspected to be carcinogenic, according to Medical News Today. Findings appeared in the journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine.
Prior projects already convinced scientists that excess risk experienced by hairdressers is linked to their exposure to carcinogenic aromatic amines in certain hair dyes. These products have also been tied to an elevated risk for leukemia and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
While these substances were found in nearly 90 percent of 1970s commercial hair dyes, manufacturers discontinued them as new regulations appeared. However, studies conducted in the United States and Turkey have found that carcinogenic levels of these banned substances still appear in hair coloring products.
Bladder cancer most frequently originates in cells in the bladder lining, the Mayo Clinic reports. Doctors diagnose a majority of these malignancies at an early stage, when they’re very treatable. However, the cancer is likely to occur again, causing survivors to undergo regular surveillance.
Exposure to certain chemicals has long been known as a potential risk factor for developing bladder cancer. Other factors include smoking, increasing age, being Caucasian, being male, and undergoing prior cancer treatment. Also important are taking certain diabetes medications, suffering from chronic bladder inflammation, and having a family history of cancer.
The National Cancer Institute estimates that 74,640 new U.S. cases of bladder cancer will develop in 2014 and that 15,580 deaths will be linked to this disease. The agency cites a 77.4 percent survival rate for the five-year period between 2004 and 2010.
The Swedish researchers analyzed blood samples from three groups: 295 hairdressers who were female, 32 individuals who used hair dye regularly, and 60 subjects who had not used any hair dye within the preceding year. The scientists found that levels of aromatic amines were not significantly different among the groups.
Among the hairdressers, however, weekly levels of substances known as o- and m-toluidines corresponded with the number of light hair color processes the subjects had used on clients. Toluidines have been confirmed as carcinogenic.
The researchers were also surprised to find high concentrations of o-toluidines with a product used to perm hair, but noted the results of another recent study that linked these substances with a rise in bladder cancer in employees of a chemical manufacturing plant. Considering their findings, the Swedish scientists say that experts should analyze the ingredients in hair dyes and products used to perm hair to find out of their use is exposing the public to carcinogenic chemicals.
Vonda J. Sines has published thousands of print and online health and medical articles. She specializes in diseases and other conditions that affect the quality of life.