Health Advice



Straightening out confusion about hair dyes and straighteners

By Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. on

Political activist Angela Davis in the 1960s, writer bell hooks in the late 1990s (she wrote "Happy to Be Nappy"), and singer/actress/dancer Zendaya today (check out her "Curly Wavy Hair Routine" video on YouTube) all embrace naturally curly hair. Smart moves.

A new study from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences reveals that using hair-straightening chemicals puts you on a straight path to trouble. Looking at data on 46,709 women, researchers found that both African American and Caucasian women who used hair straighteners every five to eight weeks (or more frequently) upped their risk of developing breast cancer by 30%!

But straightening hair isn't the only hazard the researchers spotted. Using at-home or salon permanent dyes (but not semipermanent or temporary colors) every five to eight weeks jumps the risk of breast cancer by 60% for African Americans and 8% for whites.

What's going on here? The main caustic ingredient in hair straighteners is formaldehyde, previously linked to myeloid leukemia and rare cancers, such as cancers of the nasal cavity. Some chemicals in permanent hair dyes, such as 4-diaminoanisole sulfate and para-phenylenediamine, have been found to induce tumors in the mammary gland of rats, as well as bladder and blood cancers in humans.

So embrace how you look, curls, grays and all. If you want to make some changes, enjoy a streak of temporary purple or some gray-hiding semipermanent color. Then use a hair-straightening iron (careful not to burn or damage your hair) if you want to smooth out your curls.



Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into "The Dr. Oz Show" or visit

(c) 2019 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.

Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

(c) 2020 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.


blog comments powered by Disqus

Social Connections


Michael Ramirez Signe Wilkinson Rugrats Speed Bump Gary Markstein Breaking Cat News