First Hair Relaxer Class Action Lawsuit Filed in Canada

A hair straightener class action lawsuit has been filed by two women in the Canadian province of British Columbia, who say they suffered injuries allegedly caused by “defectively designed” chemical hair-straightening products like L’Oreal’s Dark & Lovely. They are seeking class-action status to pursue damages on behalf of women in Canada who developed cancer or other injuries after using chemical hair relaxers, which they claim are dangerous to human health. Similar claims have been brought by women across the U.S. who have filed individual claims stating that they began using chemical hair straighteners and relaxers at a young age due to an absence of warnings about the potential cancer risk. To find out whether you may be eligible to file a claim for cancer or other injuries you allegedly sustained as a result of chemical hair straightener use, contact Consumer Safety Watch today.

Study Links Popular Hair Relaxers, Straighteners to Uterine Cancer

Product liability lawsuits against L’Oreal and other manufacturers began to arise after a National Institutes of Health (NIH) study in October 2022 concluded that frequent use of chemical hair straighteners more than doubled a woman’s risk of developing uterine cancer. “We estimated that 1.64% of women who never used hair straighteners would go on to develop uterine cancer by the age of 70; but for frequent users, that risk goes up to 4.05%,” said Alexandra White, Ph.D., lead author of the NIH study. Uterine cancer is a fairly rare type of cancer, accounting for about 3% of all new cancer cases in the U.S. However, it is the most common cancer of the female reproductive system, and research shows that incidence rates of uterine cancer are on the rise in the U.S., particularly among Black women.

According to this latest hair straightener cancer study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute on October 17, 2022, approximately 60% of all study participants who reported using chemical hair-straightening products in the previous year were self-identified Black women. While the researchers did not find that the correlation between hair relaxer use and uterine cancer risk differed by race, they did note that the study findings may be of particular relevance to Black women due to a higher prevalence of use. “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,” stated study author Che-Jung Chang, Ph.D. 

Chemical Hair Straighteners are “Dangerous to Human Health”

This latest study tying chemical hair straighteners and relaxers to uterine cancer is supported by previous research linking chemical hair-straightening products to hormone-related cancers in female users. In another NIH study published in December 2019, researchers found that women who used chemical hair straighteners and permanent hair dyes had a greater risk of developing breast cancer, compared to women who didn’t use these products. These findings have led to dozens of injury claims being filed in courts across the U.S., each raising similar allegations that manufacturers knew or should have known that their products contained cancer-causing chemicals. However, rather than disclosing this potential health risk to the public, they continued to aggressively market their products, specifically targeting young Black users. 

One of the plaintiffs in this recently filed Canadian class action lawsuit, 27-year-old Shamara Hutchinson, says she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer when she was only 15 years old, a diagnosis she attributes to her early use of L’Oreal’s Dark & Lovely line of hair-straightening products. Elle Wayara, 32, says she required surgery to remove uterine fibroids that were likely caused by her use of those same chemical hair straighteners, which she also began using at a young age. In their class action claim, Hutchinson and Wayara allege that Dark & Lovely and similar chemical hair straighteners are defectively designed and are inherently dangerous to human health. Earlier this month, Hutchinson and Wayara filed a notice of claim and class action status with the British Columbia Supreme Court, which must be approved before the case can move forward.

Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals Suspected in Cancer Risk

The NIH researchers did not gather information about specific brands or the ingredients in the hair products the study participants used. They did note, however, that toxic, endocrine-disrupting chemicals found in many popular hair-straightening products, including parabens, formaldehyde, bisphenol A, and metals, could be contributing to the increased cancer risk they observed. If you or someone you love used a chemical hair-straightening product like Dark & Lovely, Optimum, Ultra Precise, or Just for Me, and subsequently developed uterine cancer, breast cancer, or another serious injury, contact Consumer Safety Watch as soon as possible to find out how we can help.

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