Many factors can influence your risk of developing cancer and identifying the most important is the objective of ongoing research. Unfortunately, there are many risk factors you cannot change, such as age and gender, but others can be. Research published last year in the journal Cancer tied the use of hair dye to an increased risk of prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer is cancer that starts in the prostate gland, which is a walnut sized gland at the base of the bladder in men.
According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, some hair dye chemicals are considered mutagenic and carcinogenic in humans.
“One hospital-based study reported a positive association between hair dye use and prostate cancer risk, but no prospective analyses have been conducted,” wrote researchers in the latest study.
A prospective study watches for outcomes, such as the development of a disease, during the study period and relates this to other factors such as suspected risk or protection factor(s).
Researchers sought to plug this gap in research by investigating the association between hair dye use and prostate cancer risk in the Alpha-Tocopherol, Beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention Study cohort, a large, well-characterised cohort of 29,133 male Finnish smokers.
Participants completed questionnaires regarding lifestyle, medical, and risk factor information, including the use of hair dye, which was available for 98.8 percent of the cohort (28,795 men).
Prostate cancer cases were identified through linkage with the Finnish Cancer Registry and the Finnish Mortality Register.
What did the researchers learn?
During a 28-year period of observation, 2,703 incident prostate cancer cases were diagnosed.
As reported at the baseline, 75 men used hair dye, and 13 of these men were subsequently diagnosed with prostate cancer.
After adjustments for potential confounders, men who used hair dyes experienced “substantially higher” prostate cancer risk than men who did not, wrote the researchers.
They concluded: “This first prospective investigation of hair dye use and prostate cancer suggests that personal hair dye use may be related to increased risk.
“The findings warrant re-examination in other prospective cohorts along with studies evaluating specific hair dyes and possible underlying biological mechanisms.”
Other risk factors to watch out for
Your risk of developing it depends on many things. These include age and ethnicity.
According to Cancer Research UK, prostate cancer is more common in older men. Prostate cancer is most common in men aged 75 to 79 years.
It is estimated that one in six men in the UK will get prostate cancer at some point in their lives.
Your risk of prostate cancer is higher if you have a close relative, such as a brother or father, who has had prostate cancer.
Cancer Research UK explains: “Some inherited genes can increase your risk of prostate cancer. These inherited genes are rare and account for only a small number of prostate cancers.”
There is some evidence that being active might help to lower your risk of developing prostate cancer.
This may in part be due to the fact that being overweight or obese increases your risk of advanced prostate cancer.
Researchers have found a link between being obese or overweight and cancers being higher grade (faster growing).
Symptoms of prostate cancer include:
- Passing urine more often
- Getting up during the night to empty your bladder (nocturia)
- Difficulty passing urine – this includes a weaker flow, not emptying your bladder completely and straining when starting to empty your bladder
- Blood in your urine or semen.