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Home > Understanding Breast Cancer > Breast Cancer Research > Table 24: Hair dyes and breast cancer risk


Table 24: Hair dyes and breast cancer risk

This summary table contains detailed information about research studies. Summary tables offer an informative look at the science behind many breast cancer guidelines and recommendations. However, they should be viewed with some caution. In order to read and interpret research tables successfully, it is important to understand some key concepts. Learn how to read a research table.

Introduction: Research studies show the use of permanent hair dye does not increase the risk of breast cancer. Prospective cohort studies, case-control studies and a meta-analysis of 14 studies have found no link between hair dye and breast cancer risk.

Learn more about hair dyes, hair relaxers and breast cancer risk.

Learn about the strengths and weaknesses of different types of studies

See how this risk factor compares with other risk factors for breast cancer.

Study selection criteria: Prospective cohort studiescase-control studies and meta-analyses

Table note: Relative risk above 1 indicates increased risk. Relative risk below 1 indicates decreased risk.


Study Population
(number of participants)


Relative Risk of Breast Cancer in Women who Ever Used Hair Dye Compared to Those who Never Used Hair Dye,
RR (95% CI)

Prospective cohort studies 

Cancer Prevention Study II (CPS-II) [1]

(number of cases not given)


0.95 (0.83-1.08)

Nurses' Health Study [2]

(858 cases)


1.1 (0.9-1.2)

Shanghai Women's Health Study [3]

(592 cases)


0.93 (0.78-1.09)

Case-control studies 





Nasca et al. [4]




1.04 (0.90-1.21)

Cook et al. [5]




1.3 (1.0-1.6)

Zheng et al. [6]




0.9 (0.7-1.2)

Wynder et al. [7]




1.02 (0.77-1.32)

Koenig et al. [8]




0.8 (0.6-1.1)

Kinlen et al. [9]





Shore et al. [10]





Nasca et al. [11]




0.98 (0.58-1.66)

Stavraky et al. [12]*




1.5 (0.7-3.1)





0.7 (0.3-1.7)


Takkouche et al. [13]

14 studies including 680,633 women
(any hair dye use)


1.06 (0.95-1.18)


9 studies
(permanent hair dye use only)


0.98 (0.91-1.07)


9 studies
(intensive hair dye use)


0.99 (0.89-1.11)

NS = Not statistically significant

* Study results from two study sites.


1. Thun MJ, Altekruse SF, Namboodiri MM, et al. Hair dye use and risk of fatal cancer in U.S. women. J Natl Cancer Inst. 86(3):210-215, 1994.

2. Green A, Willett WC, Colditz GA, et al. Use of permanent hair dyes and risk of breast cancer. J Natl Cancer Inst. 79(2):253-257, 1987.

3. Mendelsohn JB, Li QZ, Ji BT, et al. Personal use of hair dye and cancer risk in a prospective cohort of Chinese women. Cancer Sci. 100(6):1088-91, 2009.

4. Nasca PC, Baptiste MS, Field NA, et al. An epidemiologic case-control study of breast cancer and exposure to hair dyes. Ann Epidemiology. 2(5):577-586, 1992.

5. Cook LS, Malone KE, Daling JR, et al. Hair product use and the risk of breast cancer in young women. Cancer Causes Control. 10(6):551-559, 1999.

6. Zheng T, Holford TR, Mayne ST, Owens PH, Boyle P, Zhang B, Zhang YW, Zahm SH. Use of hair colouring products and breast cancer risk: a case-control study in Connecticut. Eur J Cancer. 38(12):1647-52, 2002.

7. Wynder EL and Goodman M. Epidemiology of breast cancer and hair dye. J Natl Cancer Inst. 71(3): 481-488, 1983.

8. Koenig KL, Pasternack BS, Shore RE, et al. Hair dye use and breast cancer: a case-control study among screening participants. Am J Epidemiol. 133(10):985-995, 1991.

9. Kinlen LJ, Harris R, Garrod A, et al. Use of hair dyes by patients with breast cancer: a case-control study. Br Med J. 2 (6083):366-368, 1977.

10. Shore RE, Pasternack BS, Thiessen EU, et al. A case-control study of hair dye use and breast cancer risk. J Natl Cancer Inst. 62(2):277-283, 1979.

11. Nasca PC, Lawrence CE, Greenwald P, et al. Relationship of hair dye use, benign breast disease, and breast cancer. J Natl Cancer Inst. 64(1): 23-28, 1980.

12. Stavraky KM, Clarke EA, Donner A. Case-control study of hair dye use by patients with breast cancer and endometrial cancer. J Natl Cancer Inst. 63(4):941-945, 1979.

13. Takkouche B, Etminan M, Montes-Martinez A. Personal use of hair dyes and risk of cancer: a meta-analysis. JAMA. 293(20):2516-25, 2005.

Updated 11/14/13