"A lot of people have asked me if I'm telling women not to dye their hair or not to use relaxers," lead author Adana Llanos told Reuters. "I'm not saying that. What I think is really important is we need to be more aware of the types of exposures in the products we use."
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Despite the results of the study, researchers do not believe relaxers and hair dyers can increase the risk of breast cancer for one race over the other. Instead, they suggested the differing results might be attributable to cultural norms in how and which products are used.
“Our observation of differences in the association between dark hair dye use and breast cancer risk by race could relate to variable patterns of use of dark hair dyes (e.g. timing of use, duration of use and varying preferences for darker shades of dyes) between AA and White women,” the report said.
The authors also suggested that the chemical composition of the products marketed to each demographic may vary, introducing further variables. The study did not collect information on specific products used.
"Because this study collected no information on specific brands and ingredients of hair dyes, or differences in composition among retail products,” the report said, “future research is needed to describe associated risks more completely.”