The number of deaths in the U.S. due to cancer have declined steadily since the early 1990s, while the number of cancer survivors continues to climb. Innovations in medical treatments have resulted in improved outcomes, though the process is not easy for many patients. Chemotherapy relies on massive doses of toxic chemicals that attack the fast-growing cancer cells, a process that can wipe out the disease in some cases. There’s collateral damage, however, in that other fast-growing cells in the body can also be harmed. One of the most common casualties are hair cells; chemo can cause patients to lose some or all of their hair, which can be traumatic for many patients.

We’ve covered a cooling cap that can reduce hair loss for chemo patients, but a new study points toward another treatment that may also be helpful. A group of women who had completed chemotherapy for breast cancer received an non-invasive treatment to help restore hair growth. Half of the test group received a helmet lined with low-power lasers and red light LEDs, provided by Apira Science which makes a similar commercial device to encourage hair growth for people with androgenetic alopecia (pattern baldness). The control group received a similar helmet that only contained incandescent lights. The subjects wore the helmets at home for 25 minute sessions, every other day. Their progress was tracked after three and six months of the treatment.

At the end of the six months, the results showed that the group with the lasers and LEDs experienced 2.6 times greater increase in individual hairs. These results were greater than the researchers had anticipated. The study is continuing; contact the lead researcher Dr. Raymond Lanzafame at 585-266-2150 to find out about how to participate. If this process proves to be effective, it could provide emotional relief to chemo patients around the world.