Skip to main content
  1. Life
  2. Green
  3. Green Living

Coal tar hair dyes linked to bladder cancer in cosmetologist and barbers

See also

Much of the evidence linking hair dyes with bladder cancer comes from studies of hairdressers. In seven of 10 populations studied (from the US, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Japan), scientists found elevated incidence of bladder cancer among hairdressers, barbers, beauticians and cosmetologists exposed to hair dyes — 40 percent higher, on average, than population-wide risks. Hair dye exposure was also linked to bladder cancer in seven of 12 case-control studies focused specifically on occupational history among bladder cancer victims (Gago-Dominguez et al. 2001).

The International Agency for Research on Cancer found that “occupation as a hairdresser or barber entails exposures that are probably carcinogenic” (IARC 1993), and a recent study by scientists from the University of Southern California’s School of Medicine shows that hairdressers and barbers with more than 10 years on the job face a five-fold increase in bladder cancer risk compared to people not exposed to hair dye (Gago-Dominguez et al. 2001).

Studies in people

Most of the studies looking at whether hair dye products increase the risk of cancer have focused on certain cancers such as non-Hodgkin lymphoma, leukemia, bladder cancer, and breast cancer. These studies have looked at 2 groups of people:

People who use hair dyes regularly
People who may be exposed to them at work
Most studies of people exposed to hair dyes at work, such as hairdressers and barbers, have found a small but fairly consistent increased risk of bladder cancer. However, studies looking at people who have their hair dyed have not found a consistent increase in bladder cancer risk.

Studies looking at a possible link between personal hair dye use and the risk of blood-related cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma have had mixed results. For example, some studies have found an increased risk of certain types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (but not others) in women who use hair dyes, especially if they began use before 1980 and/or use darker colors. The same types of results have been found in some studies of leukemia risk. However, other studies have not found an increased risk. If there is an effect of hair dye use on blood-related cancers, it is likely to be small. (International Agency for Research on Cancer,Volume 57)



  • Dead babies found
    Seven dead babies were found in Utah resident Megan Huntsman's old home
    Shocking Discovery
  • Kendall Jenner
    Get the Coachella looks: Kendall Jenner’s nose ring, green hair and edgy nails
    Coachella Look
  • Dog's Easter basket
    How to fill your dog’s Easter basket with the perfect toys
    Easter Basket
  • Rabbit owners
    Bringing home the bunny: Important information for rabbit owners
    7 Photos
  • Haunted island
    The world’s most haunted island may soon be the most haunted luxury resort
    Haunted Resort
  • Sunken ferry
    Search continues for missing passengers after a ferry sinks off the South Korean coast
    Sunken Ferry

User login

Log in
Sign in with your email and password. Or reset your password.
Write for us
Interested in becoming an Examiner and sharing your experience and passion? We're always looking for quality writers. Find out more about and apply today!