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Cancer risk linked to purple dye popular at frosh activities

Some engineering students are rethinking a long-standing tradition of dying their bodies purple in the wake of a Health Canada warning. Students at Queen's University and the University of Toronto say they're looking at alternatives to gentian violet. Health products that contain the substance have been linked to an increased risk of cancer. The dye is popular among some campus engineering societies who've made it a tradition to colour students' hair even entire bodies at frosh events. So-called "purpling" has been common practice for years at several Ontario schools including Western University, the University of Waterloo, the University of Ottawa, and Ryerson University. Laura Berneaga is president of the University of Toronto engineering society. She says it's considered a way to honour engineers of yore who used to wear purple armbands as identification. Health Canada issued the warning last month following a review of health products and veterinary drugs containing gentian violet. Gentian violet, also known as crystal violet, is an antiseptic dye used to treat fungal infections.
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