Chemical Hair Straightener Side Effects
- Uterine cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Uterine fibroids
According to a new study from the National Institutes of Health, women who regularly use chemical hair straightening products are nearly 3 times more likely to get uterine cancer by the time they are 70. There was also a large increase in the risk of ovarian cancer, uterine fibroids, endometriosis and infertility problems.
New concerns have emerged about the safety of routinely using chemical hair-straightening products, in view of research linking the chemicals in these products to an increased risk of uterine cancer, particularly among Black women. If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with uterine cancer or another type of cancer, and you suspect a relaxer or chemical straightener to be the cause, contact Consumer Safety Watch as soon as possible. You may have grounds to file a lawsuit against the product manufacturer, in order to pursue financial compensation for your injuries.
The manufacturers of chemical hair-straighteners and relaxers will likely face a wave of lawsuits in light of a distressing new study warning that women who frequently use (defined as more than four times in the previous year) chemical hair-straightening products may be more than twice as likely to develop uterine cancer. In one recent lawsuit brought against L’Oreal USA and four other hair relaxer manufacturers, a 32-year-old woman alleges that nearly two decades of chemical hair-straightener use caused her to develop uterine cancer and require a full hysterectomy to remove her uterus. The study, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute on October 17, 2022, tracked the use of chemical straighteners, relaxers, and other hair products among more than 33,000 women between the ages of 35 and 74, approximately 60% of whom self-identified as Black women. The researchers noted that the potential cancer risk associated with hair-straightening products appears to be highest among Black women, due to a higher frequency of use. Women who developed uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, fibroids, endometriosis or another type of cancer following frequent use of relaxers or chemical hair straighteners may have grounds to file a lawsuit against the manufacturers of these potentially harmful hair products.
“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., head of the NIEHS Environment and Cancer Epidemiology group and lead author on the new study. “This doubling rate is concerning. However, it is important to put this information into context – uterine cancer is a relatively rare type of cancer.”
Chemical hair-straightening products are lotions, gels, sprays, conditioners, or creams meant to be applied to tightly coiled, curly, or frizzy hair, to straighten the hair and make it easier to manage. These products work by changing the structure of the hair, either temporarily (making hair straight until it gets wet again) or permanently (keeping hair straight for upwards of a few months). The most common permanent hair-straightening products are relaxers, Keratin/Brazilian straighteners, and Japanese heat straighteners (also known as thermal reconditioning). What women who regularly use relaxers or other hair-straightening products may not realize is that many of these creams and conditioners contain harmful chemicals like parabens, formaldehyde, metals, and bisphenol A, which could put them at a greater risk for cancer.
Despite a renewed interest in the decades-old natural hair movement, which first took root in the 1960s, chemical hair-straightening products remain a popular option for achieving a sleek, simple style, especially among Black women with naturally kinky or curly, textured hair. In one study conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), researchers found that more than two-thirds of African females used relaxers to straighten their hair, to make grooming easier, and to increase the length of their hair. Relaxers and chemical straighteners are heavily marketed to women, particularly Black women, as a faster and easier alternative to using hair-styling tools like straighteners, but scientists have discovered that the chemicals in these products may expose women to serious and potentially life-threatening side effects. In this new study from NIH, researchers found that women who used chemical hair straightening products were more than twice as likely to develop uterine cancer. The same team of researchers in 2019 found that women who use permanent hair dyes and chemical hair straighteners have a greater risk of developing breast cancer.