New Study Highlights Risk of Uterine Cancer for Black Women Using Hair Relaxers

A new study provides additional support for previous research linking chemical hair straighteners to an increased risk of uterine cancer, particularly among Black women. Hair straightening products, such as hair relaxers, have long been popular among individuals with naturally curly or textured hair. However, a growing body of research has raised serious concerns about the safety of these products and their potential link to various types of cancer, including uterine cancer. If you used a chemical hair straightener like Ultra Precise, Dark & Lovely, or Optimum and subsequently developed cancer, don’t wait to seek legal help. Call Consumer Safety Watch right away to discuss your options.

The Popularity of Chemical Hair Straighteners

Chemical hair straighteners, commonly known as hair relaxers, are products many women with naturally curly or textured hair use to straighten and smooth their hair. The products work by penetrating the layers of the hair shaft, breaking the disulfide bonds in the cortex layer, and permanently altering the hair’s natural curl pattern. Hair relaxers typically contain strong alkalis or other chemicals like formaldehyde or ammonium thioglycolate.

Chemical hair-straightening products have been widely used by individuals seeking to achieve straighter hair for longer periods of time. However, serious concerns have been raised regarding the potential health risks associated with their use. Emerging research has shown that chemical hair straighteners may contain endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) and other toxic substances that can have adverse effects on human health.

Hair Straightener Side Effects and Potential Health Risks

The use of chemical hair straighteners has been linked to various side effects and health risks. Short-term side effects can include scalp burns, scabbing, dandruff, scalp irritation, rashes, hair loss, hair thinning, and premature graying. These products may also cause damage to the hair, such as split ends, breakage, frizz, knots, and difficulty in detangling.

Of greater concern are the long-term health risks associated with chemical hair straighteners. Research has indicated a potential link between the use of these products and uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometrial cancer, and uterine fibroids. Black women, in particular, have been found to be at a greater risk of developing uterine cancer from using hair relaxers.

Research Studies Linking Hair Straighteners to Cancer

Several studies in recent years have examined the potential connection between chemical hair straighteners and an increased risk of cancer. The National Institutes of Health conducted a study involving over 33,000 women aged 35 to 74. The study found that frequent use of hair relaxers, defined as using the products more than four times a year, more than doubled the risk of uterine cancer compared to non-use. 

Research conducted by Tamara James-Todd of Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health revealed that hair straightening products commonly used by Black women contain endocrine-disrupting chemicals that can contribute to the development of hormone-sensitive cancers. “About 50 percent of products advertised to Black women contain these types of chemicals, compared to maybe only 7 percent that are advertised to white women,” James-Todd noted in her research.

This latest study conducted by Boston University’s Black Women’s Health Study focused specifically on postmenopausal Black women. The study concluded that moderate to heavy use of chemical hair relaxers increased the risk of uterine cancer in this population. Compared to women who never or rarely used hair-straightening products, those who reported using relaxers more than twice a year or for more than five years had a greater than 50% increased risk of developing uterine cancer, the researchers found.

Legal Claims and Hair Straightener Lawsuits

As the potential risks of chemical hair straighteners have become more apparent, individuals who have been diagnosed with cancer after using these products have pursued legal action against the manufacturers. These lawsuits allege negligence and failure to adequately warn consumers about the risk of side effects. Major hair care product manufacturers, including L’Oréal and Revlon, have been named in these legal claims, which seek compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, loss of wages, and other damages. If you or someone you know developed uterine cancer or another type of cancer after using a chemical hair straightener, contact Consumer Safety Watch today for help.

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