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Chemical Hair Relaxers Linked to Uterine Cancer Risk: Study
The study, which was published on October 17, 2022, in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) , found that among women who did not use chemical hair relaxers over the previous 12 months, 1.6% developed uterine cancer by age 70, but about 4% of the women who frequently use the products were diagnosed with cancer by age 70.
“In this study, women with frequent use in the past year had an over two-fold higher risk of uterine cancer,” said Chandra Jackson, an author of the study and researcher at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). Frequent use was defined as over 4 times over the course of a year.
The researchers looked at data on nearly 34,000 women in the U.S., ages 35 to 74, who answered questions about their use of hair care products such as perms, dyes, relaxers and straighteners. The study also tracked the incidence of cancer diagnoses within the cohort.
Uterine Cancer Risk Greatest in Black Women
The NCI study also found that the link between hair relaxers and uterine cancer was most pronounced for African American women, who made up only 7.4% of the study participants, but 59.9% of those who reported ever using hair relaxers and hair straightening products.
The authors speculated that numerous factors likely play a role in the use of hair relaxers by black women: Eurocentric standards of beauty, social pressures placed on women of color in the workplace, desired versatility in changing hairstyles and self-expression.
Why Are Hair Relaxers Bad For You?
The study found that certain chemicals found in hair-straightening products, such as parabens, formaldehyde, and bisphenol A (BPA) are hormone-disrupting chemicals.
“They modify our body’s normal hormonal processes," said Tamarra James-Todd, an epidemiologist at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. "So, it makes sense to look at cancers that are hormonally mediated.”
James-Todd believes that the effect of the hair straightener chemicals may not be limited to hormonal processes, but could also impact other systems, including our immune and vascular systems. Understanding how these chemicals work beyond the hormonal system is still a new and growing area of research.
“So, it could be that the way these chemicals are operating is through altering not only hormonal responses, but also by altering immune or even vascular responses,” she said. “All of these processes are linked to cancer.”
Women Sues L'Oreal Alleging Hair Straighteners Caused Uterine Cancer
A Missouri woman has filed a products liability lawsuit against L’Oréal and 4 other beauty product companies, alleging that their hair relaxers and straighteners caused her to develop uterine cancer.
The complaint alleges that Plaintiff Jenny Mitchell’s cancer “was directly and proximately caused by her regular and prolonged exposure to phthalates and other endocrine-disrupting chemicals found in defendants’ hair care products.”
Mitchell, now 32, was diagnosed with uterine cancer in August 2018, and underwent a hysterectomy a month later, according to the lawsuit. She started using chemical relaxers at the age of 10, and continued to use the products from about 2000 to March 2022.
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See all related product liability lawsuits our attorneys have taken on.
What is Uterine Cancer?
Uterine cancer is a general term that describes the following cancers of the uterus:
- Endometrial cancer - Develops in the endometrium, the inner lining of the uterus. It’s one of the most common gynecologic cancers (cancers that affect the reproductive system).
- Uterine sarcoma - Rare disease that occurs in the myometrium, the muscle wall of the uterus.
Does Uterine Cancer Spread Quickly?
Uterine cancer is typically a slow, gradually growing cancer. The disease can spread through the lymphatic system, tissues, and bloodstream. The exact location of cancer cells in the body determines where they move next, but it’s most likely to spread locally initially. More genetic damage causes cancer cells to develop quicker than cancer cells with less genetic damage.
Uterine Cancer Warning Signs
Common symptoms of gynecologic cancers include:
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge
- Feeling full too quickly or difficulty eating, bloating, and abdominal or back pain
- Pelvic pain or pressure
- More frequent or urgent need to urinate and/or constipation
- Itching, burning, pain, or tenderness of the vulva, and changes in vulva color or skin, such as a rash, sores, or warts
How Long Can You Live With Uterine Cancer?
More than 90% of women survive uterine cancer for at least 5 years following diagnosis. Most of these women will have been cured. Around 75% survive their cancer for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed.
Get a Free Hair Relaxer Uterine 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 uterine 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 (endometrial cancer or uterine sarcoma) or ovarian cancer (epithelial, germ cell, stomal) after using hair straighteners or hair relaxers, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a Hair Relaxer Uterine Cancer Lawsuit and our attorneys can help.