Study Links Hair Relaxers to Endometriosis Risk
The study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (NCI)  on October 17, 2022, found that ingredients in popular hair relaxers and hair straighteners may cause uterine cancer, a disease closely related to endometriosis, as the products contain endocrine-disrupting and carcinogenic (cancer-causing) chemicals.
Researchers looked at data on nearly 34,000 women ages 35 to 74, including a 10-year follow-up on the occurrence of uterine cancer among the cohort. The study found a higher risk of uterine cancer among hair relaxer users compared to any other hair products, as well as compared to women who used no such products:
- 4% of women who used chemical hair relaxers or hair straighteners at least 4 times over the course of the previous year developed uterine cancer
- 1.6% of women who never used a hair relaxer developed uterine cancer
First Lawsuit Filed in Federal Court
Just 4 days after the NCI study was published, the first hair straightener lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court in Chicago (Mitchell v. L’Oreal, et al. – 1:22-cv-5815). The plaintiff, Jenny Mitchell, is a 32-year-old Missouri woman who used chemical hair relaxers her entire life, beginning in the third grade.
In August 2018, Mitchell was diagnosed with uterine cancer at the age of 28, according to the lawsuit. She claims she was forced to undergo a total hysterectomy a month after being diagnosed with cancer and continues to receive regular treatment and care. She had no family history of cancer.
Mitchell claims that hair relaxer products contain high levels of endocrine disrupting chemicals (“EDCs”), which interfere with the endocrine system and hormone receptors. The complaint asserts several causes of action against L'Oreal and 4 other cosmetic manufacturers.
Her primary theories of liability are failure to warn and defective design. These claims are based on the allegation that the defendants knew or should have know that the chemicals in their hair relaxers and hair straighteners could increase the risk of uterine cancer, but they failed to warn the public about this risk.
- Hair Straighteners Cancer Lawsuit
- Hair Relaxer Cancer Litigation
- Hair Relaxer Uterine Cancer Lawsuit
- Hair Relaxer Uterine Fibroids Suit
See all related product liability lawsuits our lawyers have covered.
What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a painful medical condition in which tissue similar to the tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus — the endometrium — grows outside the uterus. The disorder typically involves the ovaries, fallopian tubes and the tissue lining the pelvis.
Common signs and symptoms of endometriosis include:
- Painful periods (dysmenorrhea)
- Pain with intercourse
- Pain with bowel movements or urination
- Excessive bleeding
How Serious is Endometriosis?
While endometriosis is often a painful condition that can affect a woman's quality of life, it's not usually considered a fatal disease. However, in rare cases, complications of endometriosis can cause potentially life-threatening health problems.
What Happens if Endometriosis is Left Untreated?
Over time, the endometrial tissue that grows outside of the uterus can lead to cysts, adhesions, and scar tissue. This can cause women to suffer chronic pain — especially during menstrual periods.
How Do Gynecologists Check for Endometriosis?
Tests to check for physical clues of endometriosis include:
- Pelvic exam
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
Can a Blood Test Detect Endometriosis?
There is a blood test that checks levels of a blood protein called CA125, which is a tumor marker for certain gynecological cancers. However, CA125 is also used to detect a specific protein found in the blood of women who have endometriosis.
Which Hair Products Increase the Risk of Cancer?
Following the publication of the October 2022 NIH study, some of the first lawsuits were filed in federal courts across the U.S., presenting claims against manufacturers of the following hair relaxers and hair straighteners:
- Ultra Precise Hair Relaxer
- Dark & Lovely
- Bantu Knots
- Optimum No-Lye Relaxer
- Motions Hair Care
- Just for Me Hair Natural Hair Products
- ORS Olive Oil Hair Care
- African Pride Natural Hair Care Products
- TCB Naturals
- Luster's Hair Products
- Africa’s Best Hair
- Creme of Nature Beauty Products
- TCB Hair Care
- Mizani Rhelaxer
- Soft & Beautiful Hair Care
- Ultra Sheen Supreme No Lye Relaxer
Lawsuit Settlement Value
It is still too early to know for sure how much hair relaxer endometriosis cases could be worth at trial or in a settlement. The lawsuit entered by Jenny Mitchell is the first complaint alleging hair relaxers caused cancer.
However, it is still possible to speculate on the likely settlement value of these cases. If we assume that the causation evidence linking chemicals in hair straighteners to uterine cancer is correct, a strong case could have a potential settlement value of between $400,000 and $1,750,000. Lawsuits involving young plaintiffs could be worth significantly more, since uterine cancer often results in permanent infertility.
Get a Free Hair Relaxer Endometriosis 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 endometriosis 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 endometriosis, uterine cancer, uterine fibroids, or breast cancer after using hair relaxers or hair straighteners, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a lawsuit and our product liability lawyers can help.