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Wednesday, 17 April, 2002, 07:29 GMT 08:29 UK
Hair dye cancer alert
Hair dyes are widely used
Colourings used in some hair dyes could cause cancer, it has been claimed.

A European Commission watchdog has criticised the hair dye industry for failing to provide evidence of the safety of its products.

Isn't it amazing that a product should have such wide gaps in its toxicological requirements but be on sale?

Dr Ian White
The Scientific Committee on Cosmetic and Non-food Products intended for Consumers says without adequate evidence it is unable to carry out a full risk assessment.

The Cancer Research Society has responded by advising consumers not to use the products until further research has been completed.

Most concerns surround dark-coloured, permanent dyes used every four to six weeks.

Scientists are particularly worried about two chemical ingredients, para-phenylenediamine and tetrahydro-6-nitroquinoxaline.

These chemicals have been shown to damage the body's genetic material, and to cause cancer in animals.

It is not the first time that fears have been raised about the safety of permanent hair dyes, which have previously been linked to arthritis and damage to unborn children.

Bladder risk

Last year a study by the University of Southern California found women who used permanent hair dyes at least once a month were up to three times more likely to develop bladder cancer.

studies to date have concluded that they are safe when used as directed

Cosmetic Toiletry and Perfumery Association
The researchers also found that long-serving hairdressers were also at increased risk.

No such link has been found between cancer and semi-permanent and temporary hair dyes.

Commenting on the failure of the industry to provide necessary information, Dr Ian White, head of the committee and a consultant dermatologist at St Thomas' Hospital, London, was quoted as saying: "They have not provided ample information that the dye is safe.

"Isn't it amazing that a product should have such wide gaps in its toxicological requirements but be on sale?"

However, Dr White stressed that the products had been on sale for decades, and only women who had used them over many years could be at any kind of risk.

A spokesperson for the Cosmetic Toiletry and Perfumery Association said twice as many men as women contracted bladder cancer - not what would be expected if hair dye posed a significant risk.

"Hair colorants are among the most thoroughly studied products on the market and studies to date have concluded that they are safe when used as directed."

Bladder cancer is diagnosed in more than 13,600 people in the UK each year. It kills 4,850.

See also:

17 Mar 00 | C-D
Bladder cancer
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