A Missouri woman claims in a new product liability lawsuit that her uterine cancer diagnosis was a direct result of exposure to harmful chemicals in Dark & Lovely, Just for Me, Optimum, Ultra Sheen Supreme, African Pride, Africa’s Best, and other hair-straightening products she used on her hair over the course of several decades. The lawsuit alleges that manufacturers like L’Oreal knew or should have known that phthalates and other endocrine-disrupting chemicals in these products could increase the risk of uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, and other devastating health problems in users. If you or someone you know routinely used chemical hair relaxers or hair-straightening products and has been diagnosed with uterine cancer or another type of cancer, contact Consumer Safety Watch right away. The hair relaxer cancer litigation is in its early stages and you may qualify for compensation.
Chemical hair straighteners and relaxers use a chemical cream to break down protein bonds in hair called disulfides, thereby changing the structure of curly, coiled, or frizzy hair. These products have become increasingly popular over the years, especially among women with naturally curly, kinky, or textured hair who want to straighten their hair and make it easier to manage on a daily basis. However, when applied to the scalp as intended, these products can expose users to harmful chemicals with carcinogenic and endocrine-disrupting properties, including formaldehyde, parabens, metals, and bisphenol A. Researchers report that exposure to such chemicals may be contributing to an increased risk of cancer among users, warning that “Chemical exposure from hair product use, especially straighteners, could be more concerning than other personal care products due to increased absorption through the scalp which may be exacerbated by burns and lesions caused by straighteners.”
New research linking hair-straightening products to an increased risk of uterine cancer and other cancers has resulted in a growing number of lawsuits claiming that chemical hair relaxer manufacturers knew or should have known that their products could cause an increased cancer risk, and not only failed to disclose this risk to consumers, but continued aggressively marketing their products, specifically targeting Black women and children with naturally curly or textured hair. According to one study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute in October 2022, women who reported frequently using hair relaxers were more than twice as likely to develop uterine cancer, compared to women who never used the products.
This latest chemical hair relaxer lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri on January 5, by Angela Steward, a Missouri woman who was diagnosed with uterine cancer in 2014, and underwent chemotherapy and a full hysterectomy. According to Steward, she began using hair relaxers in 1983, at the age of 15, and applied a variety of chemical straightening products to her hair over the course of her life, including Dark & Lovely, Optimum, and Just for Me brands. Steward alleges in her claim that repeated exposure to toxic chemicals in these products caused her to develop uterine cancer. “Hair products such as relaxers contain hormonally active and carcinogenic compounds, such as phthalates, known to cause endocrine disruption, which are not required to be listed separately as ingredients and are often broadly lumped into ‘fragrance’ or ‘perfume’ categories,” her complaint states. “Relaxer habits usually begin in formative childhood years, and adolescence is likely a period of enhanced susceptibility to debilitating conditions resulting from exposure to these chemicals.”
Recent research shows that the rate of uterine cancer in the U.S. is on the rise, especially among Black women. In the October 2022 hair relaxer study, women who self-identified as Black accounted for about 60% of the study participants who reported using chemical hair-straightening products in the previous year. An author on that study reported that “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.” If you or someone you love has suffered from cancer, uterine fibroids, or another serious health problem, and you believe chemical hair straightener use to be the cause, contact a knowledgeable hair relaxer cancer attorney right away to discuss your legal options.