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Date of last update: 10/21/2017.

Forum Name: Miscellaneous Cancer Topics

Question: Formaldehyde inhaled...Cancer guaranteed?

 sara.mursi - Thu Sep 25, 2008 8:12 am

Hi all,

About 5 months ago I got the Brazilian Nanokeratin Treatment done to my hair and learned later that it contains formaldehyde, a carcinogenic. The salon did make me wear a gas mask but I'm sure I inhaled some of the fumes.
Question is, could inhaling just that one time cause cancer? How do I make sure everything is alright? Also, what type of cancer would it cause?

Thank you very much in advance for your time.

 Debbie Miller, RN - Tue Oct 07, 2008 4:13 pm

User avatar Hello,
Many of us have done this, especially prior to the knowledge of the potential harm. In fact, in nursing school we were exposed to it in the anatomy lab regularly. After the fact there's nothing that can be done except hope that we aren't among the unlucky ones here.

No, it does not guarantee cancer; but exposure could possibly raise your risk a bit but it is believed the greatest risk comes with repeat and heavy exposures as opposed to one-time events. We really would be in trouble if cancer-causing factors automatically gave each person the disease on single exposures. Even people with repeat exposures to carcinogens sometimes never get the disease (like with some smokers who never develop lung disease or cancer). There seems to be some genetic predisposition which, when linked to exposure sets the stage for the abnormal cell growth that occurs with cancer. The risks would likely involve the respiratory system, nasal passages, brain and leukemia. It is wise to avoid exposure to formaldehyde and if your occupation brings you in regular contact you should investigate measures to decrease your risk.

Here is a fact sheet from the National Cancer Institute about formaldehyde.

Best wishes.
 sara.mursi - Sun Oct 12, 2008 7:07 am

Hello Debbie,

Thank you very much for your thorough and prompt reply. You put my mind at ease - I was very worried about this and didn't find anything on the Internet about the dangers of this hair treatment that gave as much detail.

I will be sure to avoid exposure altogether.

Thanks again

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