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Recent studies have found that exposure to chemicals in popular hair straightening products may increase your risk for developing uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, and other serious health problems.
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If you or a loved one was diagnosed with breast cancer, endometriosis, uterine cancer, or uterine fibroids after using hair relaxers or hair straighteners, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a Hair Relaxer Lawsuit and our products liability lawyers can help.

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Woman Sues L'Oreal Alleging Uterine Cancer from Hair Straighteners

A Missouri woman has filed a lawsuit against L’Oréal and several other cosmetic companies, alleging that their hair-straightening products caused her to develop uterine cancer.

The suit claims 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.” The 32-year-old was diagnosed with cancer in August 2018, and required to undergo a hysterectomy the following month.

“At that time, at the age of 28, my dreams of becoming a mother were gone,” Mitchell told CNN. She began using chemical relaxers in third grade, and continued to use the products from about 2000 to March 2022. Mitchell is seeking more than $75,000 in damages.

Hair Straighteners Linked to Uterine Cancer Risk: Study

A new study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute [1] highlights growing concerns about the safety of chemicals in hair straighteners, linking the widely-used products to an increased risk for uterine cancer in certain women.

For the study, researchers from the National Institute of Environmental Health (NIEHS) tracked the health of over 33,000 women for a period of more than 11 years, logging how frequently the participants used chemical hair products and any health problems they developed.

Of the women who didn’t use chemical hair straighteners in the previous year, 1.6% developed uterine cancer by age 70. Conversely, about 4% of the women who used chemical hair straighteners at least 4 times in the previous year were diagnosed with cancer, equaling a 2-fold increased risk. The vast majority of participants who developed uterine cancer were black women, who are already at a disproportionate risk of the disease.

“These findings suggest that [people] should consider their use of hair products in light of the fact that the chemicals in straightening products may influence their risk of developing uterine cancer,” said Alexandra White, head of the NIEHS environment and cancer epidemiology group.

NIH Study Finds Hair Dye, Straighteners Increase Breast Cancer Risk

The NIEHS study isn’t the first to link chemical hair products to an increased risk of cancer. In 2020, a study published by the National Institutes of Health [2] found that people who regularly use chemical hair dye and hair straighteners had a greater risk of breast cancer.

The research also determined that black women, who traditionally use the products more frequently, were associated with a 45% higher rate of breast cancer, compared with white women, who had a 7% higher rate. Multiple studies have reached similar conclusions in recent years.

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“Hair-straightening products contain many harsh, toxic and hormone-disrupting chemicals, and because they are left on the scalp for extended periods of time and women may use them repeatedly starting at young ages, this increases the potential for exposure,” said Nicole Deziel, associate professor of epidemiology and Yale Cancer Center cancer prevention and control member.

Why Can Chemical Hair Products Cause Cancer?

Although it’s still unclear exactly how chemical hair dye and straighteners may contribute to the increased cancer risk, many scientists believe that ingredients in the products may impair the endocrine system, leading to the formation of cancer cells. Many hair straighteners include formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing chemicals, which are known human carcinogens (cancer-causing substances).

Another theory is that chemicals contained in hair products such as metals, phthalates, and parabens can affect estrogen levels and create hormonal imbalances. Studies have linked elevated estrogen levels to an increased risk for breast, ovarian and uterine cancer.

“At this point, we may hypothesize that some of the ingredients may have a stimulating effect on the lining of the uterus, called the endometrium, and the endometrium is very responsive to changes in hormone cycles and is particularly responsive to estrogen,” said Dr. Oliver Dorigo, the director and associate professor of gynecologic oncology at Stanford University. "This may cause the uterine lining to thicken over time, and in certain cases turn into cancer."

Which Products are Safest?

Unfortunately, little research has been conducted on the ingredients contained in chemical hair products, so experts are reluctant to offer any firm recommendations.

However, Dr. Dorigo advises frequent users of hair dye and/or hair straighteners to scale back their use, regardless of whether you use them at home or in the salon. He also encouraged physicians to share the results of the studies with their patients so they can make informed decisions about using chemical hair straighteners and hair dye.

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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 straighteners 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 breast cancer, endometriosis, uterine cancer, or uterine fibroids after using hair relaxers or hair straighteners, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a Hair Relaxer Lawsuit and our products liability lawyers can help.

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