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Update: Hair Relaxer Lawsuits Consolidated in Illinois
The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) on Feb. 6, 2023, consolidated dozens of lawsuits alleging that L'Oreal and other companies' hair relaxers cause cancer in the Northern District of Illinois, according to Reuters .
The complaints similarly claim that L'Oreal USA's subsidiaries and subsidiaries of India-based companies Godrej SON Holdings Inc. and Dabur International Ltd. sold hair relaxation products that caused women to develop uterine, ovarian or breast cancer, endometriosis, uterine fibroids or other injuries to the reproductive system.
The lawsuits were filed on behalf of Lead Plaintiffs Jenny Mitchell, Rugieyatu Bhonopha, Diane Grant and Bernadette Gordon, and centralized before U.S. District Judge Mary M. Rowland in Federal Court in Chicago.
The case is In re: Hair Relaxer Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation, MDL number 3060, in the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation .
Hair Relaxer Chemicals Linked to Uterine Cancer Risk: NIH Study
For the study , researchers from the National Institute of Environmental Health (NIEHS) surveyed more than 33,000 women over the course of 11 years. They found that women who used hair relaxers and hair straighteners over 4 times per year were twice as likely to go on to develop uterine cancer compared to women who did not use the products.
The study's authors said that because African American women statistically use hair relaxers and hair straighteners more often than women from other ethnicities, they face an increased risk for development of the cancers.
“Because Black women use hair straightening or relaxer products more frequently and tend to initiate use at earlier ages than other races and ethnicities, these findings may be even more relevant for them,” said Che-Jung Chang, lead author of the study and a research fellow in the NIEHS Epidemiology Branch.
Previous studies have linked chemical hair straighteners and hair dyes to an increased risk for breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
Women Sues 5 Companies Alleging Uterine Cancer from Hair Relaxers
A lawsuit has been filed over claims that chemical hair relaxers may put women at risk for uterine cancer. The complaint was filed by Jenny Mitchell, who claims she first began using chemical hair relaxer products in 2000 when she was in the third grade.
Mitchell would either apply at-home straightener products herself or have them applied at a salon, according to the lawsuit. She underwent these applications in regular intervals of no longer than 2 months.
In August 2018, Mitchell was diagnosed with uterine cancer at the age of 28. She underwent a full hysterectomy a month after her diagnosis and continues to receive regular treatment and care. She had no family history of cancer.
"I am the first voice of many voices to come that will stand up to these companies and say no more," Mitchell said. "I'm 32 years old right now, and I am still feeling that void of not being able to bear my own child."
Five different cosmetic companies, each with its own brand of hair relaxer, are named as defendants in the lawsuit. The most prominent of the defendants is L’Oreal. The other chemical hair relaxer products used by Mitchell include: Dark & Lovely, Motions, Organic Root Stimulator, and Olive Oil Relaxer.
This lawsuit is one of the first of its kind, and could potentially pave the way for the next mass tort class action. The litigation is: Mitchell v. L’Oreal, et al. – 1:22-cv-5815, U.S. District Court in Chicago.
What Chemicals Make Hair Relaxers Dangerous?
Though the NIH study didn’t name specific brands of hair relaxers or straighteners, there are certain chemicals that may be contributing to the increased uterine cancer risk including:
- Parabens - Chemicals that can disrupt hormones in the body and harm fertility and reproductive organs, affect birth outcomes, and increase the risk of cancer. They can also cause skin irritation.
- Bisphenol A - Exposure to bisphenol A, or BPA, is a concern because of the potential health effects on the brain and prostate gland of fetuses, infants, and children. It can also affect children's behavior.
- Metals - Metallic substances induce oxidative stress, DNA damage, and cell death processes, resulting in an increase in the risk of cancer and cancer-related diseases.
- Formaldehyde - Studies of people exposed to high levels of formaldehyde have found that the chemical causes myeloid leukemia and rare cancers, including cancers of the paranasal sinuses, nasal cavities, and nasopharynx.
For other chemical-based hair products like highlights, bleach, hair dyes, and perms, researchers didn’t find a link to uterine cancer.
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See all related product liability lawsuits our attorneys have taken on.
Uterine Cancer Deaths Rising Among Black Women: NCI Study
Deaths from uterine cancer are increasing in the U.S., and are highest among non-Hispanic black women, according to a recent study  conducted by the National Cancer Institute (NCI).
The study's authors found that, between 2010 and 2017, deaths of women from all racial and ethnic groups from uterine cancer overall increased by 1.8% per year. Deaths from non-endometroid subtypes of uterine cancer -- which are more aggressive than endometrioid cancers -- increased by 2.7% per year, whereas endometrioid cancer mortality rates were stable during this period.
Black women had more than twice the rate of deaths from uterine cancer overall and of non-endometrioid subtypes compared with other racial and ethnic groups.
Symptoms of Uterine Cancer
Women with uterine cancer may experience the following signs and symptoms:
- Unusual vaginal bleeding, spotting, or discharge
- Abnormal results from a Pap test
- Pain in the pelvic area
Is Uterine Cancer Treatable?
While a diagnosis of uterine cancer can be scary, it is important to know that the disease is curable, especially if it is caught at an early stage. Surgery is the most common treatment, but radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and several other therapies may also be used to treat uterine cancer.
Get a Free Hair Relaxer Cancer Lawsuit Evaluation With Our Lawyers
The Products Liability Litigation Group at our law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus on the representation of plaintiffs in hair relaxer cancer lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting new cases in all 50 states.
Again, if you or a loved one was diagnosed with uterine cancer, breast cancer, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids after using a hair relaxer, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a Hair Relaxer Cancer Lawsuit and our products liability lawyers can help.