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Study links breast cancer and hair dye

One Tampa Bay hairstylist is working to make organic haircare the latest trend.

TAMPA, Fla. — We spend so much time worried about eating organic and what we put on our skin–but what about our hair? There's new research that shows hair dye could be linked to breast cancer.

This wasn't new news for Star's Organic Spa in Tampa Bay. 

10News Anchor Allison Kropff went there to see why they think organic should be the new hair trend.

A day getting pampered at the salon is usually relaxing. For Lisa McDermitt, it was also eye-opening. 

"There's no history of breast cancer at all in either line of my family," McDermitt said.

A breast cancer diagnosis was her wake up call about hair color. 

So, she started going to hairstylist Star Ryan, who's been using organic products for more than 14 years. 

"Then I begin to investigate about ammonia and how it was linked to breast cancer. And people, when I was giving color before I did the organic hair color, people were itching, they wanted a comb so they could scratch their head. So, now people have no more itching, no more burning, nothing like that," Ryan said.

 A new study from the National Institute of Health found women who use permanent hair dye and chemical hair straighteners have a higher risk of developing breast cancer than women who don't use them. 

We talked with Dr. Shelley Tworoger from Moffitt Cancer Center about the risk. 

"There are a lot of chemicals in hair dyes and hair straighteners effects. Some of them have over 5,000 chemicals. And then, it turns out that some of those chemicals can act a little bit like estrogen, the sex hormones and women that we know can increase the risk of breast cancer. So it's there have been some other studies that have suggested that these chemicals from hair dyes can actually get into breast tissue, and that could increase risk," Dr. Tworoger said.

But, she said it's not necessarily enough evidence for you to cancel your appointments. 

"You might want to choose things that have a low amount of time on your head. And make sure if you're doing it yourself that you're using appropriate protection like gloves or respiratory mask. At this point we don't know which compounds or which specific products could increase breast cancer risk,"  Dr. Tworoger said.

Ryan says she pays attention to the ingredients. She looks for organic, natural, vegan products.

"It's not only just parabens and sulfate-free, there are other chemicals that are in their resource and all things of that nature. So, you know, when I found out that the largest organ in my body was my skin, I realized that how important it was that even the things that I'm putting on the head because it soaks into the brain," Ryan said.

For McDermitt, her diagnosis was enough to get her to make the change for her health. As for her hair, going organic hasn't changed how it looks or feels. 

"I thought the same thing, believe it or not, my hair color, it last longer than when I was using the chemicals. So, not only is it healthier, at last, probably almost up to eight weeks," McDermitt said.

The best thing to do is to talk to your stylist about using products that have a short period of time on your hair and to rinse it off very well. 

For McDermitt, that means she doesn't just look good, she feels good too. 

Here are a few questions to ask your hairstylist: 

Is there ammonia in the color? Do you have access to organic hair products? Could you order them to use on me? Can I see the ingredients of the color? 

And there's an easy way to check out products. Check out Think Dirty. It's an app that tracks products.

RELATED: Permanent hair dye and straighteners may be linked to increased breast cancer risk, study says

RELATED: Skin Deep: Do you know what's in your personal care products?

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