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Paradigm Shift of Hair Dye Use from Natural to Synthetic: A Concern for Carcinogenic Trigger

Safia Habib, Asif Ali


More than 60% of the young population in different parts of the world use synthetic hair dyes to enhance their looks. People prefer to use synthetic formulations over natural ones. Synthetic hair dyes consist of potentially toxic and mutagenic chemicals depending upon the class they belong to. These chemicals interact with each other to form pigment molecules. Most of the hair dyes contain aromatic amines and its derivatives to produce stable, bright, and luscious colour. Irrespective of the class, all the formulations are metabolized and converged to the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS). ROS induce pro-inflammatory conditions and if the situation goes unchecked it may progress to different cancers. Biomedical sciences and research have shown interest to probe and collect evidences on association between hair dye use (both personal and occupational) and risk of cancer development. Most of the recent epidemiological studies support the use of hair dye and its association with the development of cancers. Particularly prostate cancer with Odds Ratio (OR) = 2.15, bladder cancer (OR = 7.3), breast cancer (OR = 1.23), and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (OR = 3.28) are reported; all the values at 95% Confidence interval. However, the evidences are weak and inconsistent. Therefore, extensive experimental studies are required to determine the pathophysiology of cancer in association with hair dye use. Also, in the public interest, some methodologies need to be developed and adopted to reduce the toxicity and possible carcinogenicity associated with the synthetic formulations. The present review article briefly tried to cover biochemical action mechanisms of natural and synthetic hair dyes, the association between hair dye use and cancers along with the possible methods to reduce the toxicity associated with the hair dye formulations.



Human hair, hair dye, epidemiology, cancer, prevention

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