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Hairdressers’ Blood Samples Contain Carcinogens, Study Finds

Update Date: Jun 10, 2014 01:50 PM EDT

Hairdressers are exposed to varying types of chemicals every day. In a new study, researchers analyzed hairdressers' blood to see if exposure to these chemicals coming from permanent dyes and perming treatments affects their overall health. The team discovered one particular kind of carcinogen that was present in hairdressers' blood samples that could be linked to the types of products they use on their clients.

For this study, the research team recruited 295 female hairdressers, 32 female adults who used hair dyes regularly and 60 women who have not come into contact with any of these hair products within the past year. All participants provided blood samples and none of them were smokers. The team measured levels of eight potentially carcinogenic aromatic amines. This included toluidines, which are banned from cosmetics products under the European Union due to cancer risk. The team examined ortho- and meta-toluidines.

The researchers found that levels of o- and m-toluidines tended to be higher when the hairdressers reported doing more permanent light hair color treatments. Hairdressers tended to have higher levels of o-toluidines in their blood samples when they reported using more perming treatments. Overall, hairdressers had higher carcinogen levels in comparison to the other two groups. The findings suggest that constant exposure to these products could increase risk of cancer. However, during the study, none of the female participants were diagnosed with any kinds of cancer.

"The measured levels of o-toluidine in blood among hairdressers were in general low, however, exposure to o-toluidine should be kept as low as possible since it is a carcinogenic compound," said Gabriella M. Johansson, who worked on the study at Lund University in Sweden reported by the New York Daily News.

The researchers acknowledged that they only found a correlation. There is no evidence that using hair dyes and perming treatments will lead to cancer development. Johansson and her team plan on further analyzing the effects of using light and dark hair products on the hairdressers' blood carcinogen levels.

The study, "Exposure of hairdressers to ortho- and meta-toluidine in hair dyes," was published in Occupational & Environmental Medicine.

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