Does the Use of Hair Relaxers Really Cause Cancer?
The Unspoken Risk of Ovarian or Uterine Cancers
Recently published scientific studies have found that black and brown women who regularly used chemical hair-relaxing products develop uterine and ovarian cancer at a disproportionately high rate as compared to white women. Specifically, the National Institute of Health reported a two to four-fold (greater than 100%) increased risk of endometrial/uterine and ovarian cancers in two separate publications. In both instances, NIH targeted the presence of chemicals called “Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals” (EDCs) as the offending agent in the products. These EDCs mimic estrogen and overload the body, leading to the formation of hormone-sensitive cancers including uterine and ovarian cancer.
Alarmingly, several manufacturers have been marketing hair relaxer products without warning of the potential health risks.
- Dark & Lovely
- Just for Me
- Olive Oil
- African Pride Olive Miracle
- Crème of Nature
- Soft & Beautiful
- Hawaiian Silk
- TCB Hair Relaxer
- Design Essentials
- Beautiful Textures
- and others
One product sold by L’Oréal under the brand name “Just for Me” is marketed to children, which we believe was an intentional effort to encourage long-term use starting at a very young age.
Unfortunately, products designed for and marketed to black women contain the highest levels of toxic and harmful ingredients.
What Are Chemical Hair Straighteners/Relaxers?
Chemical hair straighteners/relaxers are hair-straightening products that are used to straighten naturally curly or wavy hair. They work by breaking down the bonds in the hair shaft and then reforming them in a straightened position. These products typically contain chemicals such as phthalates and other harmful chemicals linked to high-cancer risks. The users of chemical hair relaxers typically use these products every 4-6 weeks, so continued long-term use is common.
What Are the Side Effects of Using Chemical Hair Straighteners/Relaxers?
Hair products may contain hazardous chemicals with endocrine-disrupting and carcinogenic properties (EDCs). Previous studies have found hair product use to be associated with a higher risk of hormone-sensitive cancers including uterine and ovarian cancer.
According to the NIH, women who reported frequent use of hair straightening products, defined as more than four times in the previous year, were more than twice as likely to go on to develop uterine cancer compared to those who did not use the products.
What Are Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals or EDCS?
Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are substances in the environment (air, soil, or water supply), food sources, personal care products, and manufactured products that interfere with the normal function of your body’s endocrine system.
Precise hormone functioning is vital – any slight variation in hormone levels can lead to significant adverse health effects, including reproductive impairment, infertility, and cancer.
EDCs can act directly on hormone receptors as mimics or antagonists or on proteins that control hormone delivery.
EDCs can cause a prolific hormonal effect that can cause the body to over-respond to stimulus or respond in a way the body is not supposed to.
EDCs can increase or decrease the levels of the body’s hormones by affecting the production, degradation, and storage of hormones.
Are Uterine or Ovarian Cancers Occurring in Black Women More Frequently?
The NIH reported: Uterine cancer accounts for about 3% of all new cancer cases but is the most common cancer of the female reproductive system, with 65,950 estimated new cases in 2022. Studies show that incidence rates of uterine cancer have been rising in the United States, particularly among Black women.
Approximately 60% of the participants who reported using straighteners in the previous year were self-identified Black women, according to the study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Although the study did not find that the relationship between straightener use and uterine cancer incidence was different by race, the adverse health effects may be greater for Black women due to the higher prevalence of use.
If you or a loved one have used chemical hair straighteners/relaxers for a long period of time recently or in the past and have been diagnosed with one of the above conditions, don’t delay. Reach out to our respected and fierce team of product liability lawyers today to discuss your options for potential compensation in the developing hair relaxer class action lawsuit. Call us today!