Carcinogens in hairdressers' blood linked to frequency of dye and perm use

Credit: Laura Tiitto/public domain

The levels of a particular type of carcinogen in hairdressers' blood seem to be linked to how often these professionals use permanent dyes and perming treatments on clients' hair, indicates research published online in Occupational & Environmental Medicine.

This suggests that permanent dyes and perming treatments may contain toluidines, which are subject to a European Union-wide ban in cosmetics on account of their carcinogenic properties, say the authors.

They measured the levels of eight potentially carcinogenic aromatic amines, to include toluidines, in the blood of 295 female hairdressers, 32 regular users of hair dyes, and 60 people who had not used any of these products in the past 12 months.

They focused particularly on haemoglobin adducts in the blood as these give a better indication of the long term exposure to carcinogens.

Levels of these aromatic amines varied considerably from 0-200 pg/g , but did not differ significantly between the three groups.

However, among the hairdressers, levels of o- and m-toluidines tended to rise in tandem with the number of weekly permanent light hair colour treatments they applied. A similar trend was seen for perming treatments in respect of o-toluidine levels.

Hairdressing has been classified as an occupation that carries an increased risk of cancer, based primarily on a higher prevalence of bladder cancer than would be expected for the general population. In the 1970s, around 90% of commercial hair dyes contained carcinogenic substances, prompting restrictions on their use, say the researchers.

But given their findings, they suggest that the ingredients of and perming products should be analysed to find out if these products continue to be potential sources of toluidine exposure.

And they go on to advise that hairdressers should protect themselves from the risk of absorbing these products through their skin by wearing gloves, and ensure they perform tasks for which gloves can't be worn, such as cutting, before the application of any dyes or perms.

More information: Paper: oem.bmj.com/lookup/doi/10.1136/oemed-2013-101960

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Formaldehyde levels in hair straighteners too high

Jan 23, 2014

(HealthDay)—Formaldehyde concentrations in Brazilian keratin treatment hair straightening products may exceed recommended safety levels, according to a study published in the February issue of the Journal of ...

Recommended for you

Many nurses unprepared to meet dying patients

21 minutes ago

Most nurses in their work care for patients who are dying. A study of more than 200 students has shown that many nurses in training feel unprepared and anxious when faced with the prospect of meeting patients during end-of-life ...

Spinach extract decreases cravings, aids weight loss

22 minutes ago

A spinach extract containing green leaf membranes called thylakoids decreases hedonic hunger with up to 95% - and increases weight loss with 43%. This has been shown in a recently published long-term human study at Lund University ...

Tobacco display bans protect youth and quitters

2 hours ago

Ending the display and promotion of cigarettes and tobacco in retail shops helps prevent young people taking up smoking and keeps quitters on track, according to new University of Otago research.

Monitoring work-related illnesses in Connecticut

2 hours ago

As we mark the annual Labor Day holiday, Connecticut workers continue to suffer occupational illness rates higher than the national average. A recent study by UConn Health found that 7,129 unique cases of ...

User comments