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Study: No Hair Dye-Cancer Link

December 1, 1998

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A study involving more than 2,000 people concluded that the use of hair dye does not increase the risk of one type of cancer, a finding that contradicts some earlier, smaller studies.

``These are wonderfully negative results,″ said Elizabeth Holly, a University of California, San Francisco professor and lead author of the study. ``The results of our study, the largest one ever conducted, will hopefully make the large proportion of American women who color their hair feel much more comfortable about using these products.″

Holly said that her study had four times more men and women than a 1992 study that linked the use of hair dye with a 50 percent increase in the risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

The new study was published Tuesday in the American Journal of Public Health.

Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is the fifth most common cancer among American adults. The disease incidence has increased by about 3 percent over the last 20 years and many researchers have been searching for an explanation.

Food and Drug Administration studies have linked some hair color products with cancer in animals, but those studies used higher concentrations of the chemicals than what humans normally use, Holly said.

Human studies of hair dye and cancer have yielded ``conflicting reports,″ Holly said.

In the new study, hair dye use information was gathered from 713 lymphoma patients and from 1,604 randomly selected adults who did not have the disease. All of the subjects lived in the San Francisco Bay area.

The participants were asked if they had used hair color products more than five times, the type of product used and the frequency of use. The study found that 56 percent of women and 9 percent of the men interviewed used hair color products at some point.

An analysis of the survey answers found no statistically significant difference in the incidence of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma among those who used the hair dye compared to those who did not.

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