Hair dyes are grouped into three basic categories: permanent, which uses chemicals like ammonia and peroxide to break down the surface of the hair shaft to allow penetration of colour, and normally lasts four to six weeks; semi-permanent, a bonded coating of the hair shaft which typically lasts for 12-24 shampoos; and temporary, which merely coats the shaft and is removed in the next few washes.
Concerns about hair dye-related illness are mainly centered around two toxic factors: 1) the combination of ammonia and peroxide, mainly used in the developing solution of permanent and semi-permanent dyes (one or both of these chemicals have been removed from many natural products); 2) the common petrochemical p-phenylenediamine (PPD), and its derivatives, 4-MMPD and 4-MMPD Sulphate, which are found in most commercial, and many natural products. PPDs have been found in independent studies to be mutagenic, or capable of altering DNA codes, a precursor to cancers and a feature of many known carcinogens. And dyes contain a host of other suspected toxins, such as diaminobenzene, ammoniated mercury, and sodium laurel sulfate.
There is a mass of scientific data available about the dangers of hair dyes, however the research is not entirely conclusive. Conflicting results exist between independent and university research, and lab research conducted or funded by the manufacturers themselves. Needless to say, the manufacturers have millions of reasons to find no connection with disease — hair colour is big business and growing.
Illnesses associated with hair colouring have generally been linked with permanent and semi-permanent dyes, especially darker colours (with black being singled out as particularly hazardous). Most at risk are those regularly exposed, such as hairdressers, and those exposed over an extended period, such as long time do-it-yourself colourers and salon customers. Diseases which have hair dyes implicated as a potential cause include:
• Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma — Frequency of this cancer, which attacks the lymphatic system, has increased roughly 100% since 1950, suggesting a link with modern environmental pollutants, and the issue of toxic overload. A study conducted at the University of Washington in 1994 found a 50% increase in the incidence of N-HL in long term hair dye users.
• Bladder Cancer — This illness is currently being closely studied for a connection with hair dyes; a flood of information and misinformation should soon follow. A 2001 study at the University of Southern California found a five times greater incidence of bladder cancer among hairdressers working with permanent and semi-permanent dyes than in the general population. Hair Salon Products | Hair Products For Men
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