Chemical Hair Straighteners/Relaxers

Increased Uterine/Ovarian Cancer Risk in New Study

Uterine/Ovarian Cancers

Recently published scientific studies have found that black and brown women who regularly used chemical hair-relaxing products develop uterine and ovarian cancer at a disproportionately high rate as compared to white women. Specifically, the National Institute of Health reported a two to four-fold (greater than 100%) increased risk of endometrial/uterine and ovarian cancers in two separate publications. In both instances, NIH targeted the presence of chemicals called “Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals” (EDCs) as the offending agent in the products. These EDCs mimic estrogen and overload the body, leading to the formation of Uterine Fibroids (UF) and the above-referenced cancers.

Alarmingly, several of these manufacturers including L’Oréal, Softsheen-Carson, Luster, ORS, Dabur, Godrej, and others market these products without warning of these outcomes. One product sold by L’Oréal under the brand name “Just for Me” is marketed to children, which we believe was an intentional effort to encourage long-term use starting at a very young age.


What are Chemical Hair Straighteners/Relaxers?

Chemical hair straighteners/relaxers are hair-straightening products that are used to straighten naturally curly or wavy hair. They work by breaking down the bonds in the hair shaft and then reforming them in a straightened position. These products typically contain chemicals such as phthalates and other harmful chemicals linked to high-cancer risks. The users of chemical hair relaxers typically use these products every 4-6 weeks, so continued long-term use is common.

What are the Side Effects of using Chemical Hair Straighteners/Relaxers?

Hair products may contain hazardous chemicals with endocrine-disrupting and carcinogenic properties (EDCs). Previous studies have found hair product use to be associated with a higher risk of hormone-sensitive cancers including uterine and ovarian cancer.

According to the NIH, women who reported frequent use of hair straightening products, defined as more than four times in the previous year, were more than twice as likely to go on to develop uterine cancer compared to those who did not use the products.

What are EDCs?

Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are substances in the environment (air, soil, or water supply), food sources, personal care products, and manufactured products that interfere with the normal function of your body’s endocrine system.

Are Uterine/Ovarian Cancers Occurring in Black Women More Frequently?

The NIH reported: Uterine cancer accounts for about 3% of all new cancer cases but is the most common cancer of the female reproductive system, with 65,950 estimated new cases in 2022. Studies show that incidence rates of uterine cancer have been rising in the United States, particularly among Black women.

Approximately 60% of the participants who reported using straighteners in the previous year were self-identified Black women, according to the study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Although the study did not find that the relationship between straightener use and uterine cancer incidence was different by race, the adverse health effects may be greater for Black women due to higher prevalence of use.

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If you or a loved one used Hair Straighteners/Relaxers, don’t hesitate to contact us. Fill out the form below to get in touch, or call us directly at (850) 202-1010.

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