Hair relaxers are the latest beauty products to come under fire because of their link to potentially dangerous health effects. New scientific evidence has emerged that suggests that the long-term use of hair relaxers is linked to increased rates of uterine cancer. More specifically, a groundbreaking new study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has shown that women who use chemical hair straightening or relaxing products regularly are at a higher risk for developing uterine cancer than those who do not use these products. This study along with an earlier NIH study linking hair relaxer use to ovarian cancer are the reason women are filing hair relaxer lawsuits.
NIH Study Links Hair Relaxers to Uterine Cancer
Uterine cancer is the 4th most common type of cancer in women, and Black women are twice as likely as white women to develop uterine cancer during their lifetime. The new study from the NIH may partly explain why. The study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute in October of 2022, found that women who used hair straightening products in the previous 12 months were more likely to be diagnosed with uterine cancer than women who had never used hair relaxers. And the risk increased with more frequent use. Women who used hair relaxers 4 times in the previous 12 months were more than twice as likely to develop uterine cancer.
Hair Relaxers May Also Cause Ovarian Cancer
The same research team from the NIH previously found a link between hair straighteners and ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer is relatively rare; each year only 20,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Unfortunately, however, the 5-year survival rate is only 47% due to the fact that ovarian cancer has few symptoms and often goes undiagnosed until the later stages when the cancer has spread. The NIH team conducted a a study in 2021 that found that women who use hair relaxers frequently (more than 4 times per year) have a 50% greater risk of developing ovarian cancer than women who do not use the products. Both studies followed a large group of women over a 10-year span.
What Are Hair Straighteners and Relaxers?
Hair straighteners and relaxers are beauty products that use a combination of potent chemicals to break down the protein structure of hair strands in order to straighten hair. These lotions or creams are typically marketed towards African American women, and their effects usually last for six to eight weeks. Hair relaxers are used for many reasons, but they are primarily used by Black women because of societal pressure to conform to western standards of beauty. Moreover, beauty companies have spent lots of money and decades marketing these hair-relaxing products to the Black community.
Hair Relaxer Brands
There are many brands of hair-relaxing products, including some of the most popular ones below:
- Dark and Lovely
- Design Essentials
- Just For Me
- SoftSheen-Carson (L’Oréal)
- ORS Olive Oil
- Beautiful Textures
- Gentle Treatment
Why Are These Hair Straighteners So Dangerous?
Hair relaxers contain many different chemicals which make them potentially dangerous to human health. Depending on the brand, you may find lye, phthalates, parabens, bisphenol A, metals, and formaldehyde in the product. And using hair relaxers can cause scalp lesions or burns, which makes it easier for these toxic chemicals to enter the body, leading to higher exposure.
Phthalates in particular are in almost every hair relaxer. These endocrine-disrupting chemicals impact and disrupt the endocrine system and interfere with hormone receptors. Hair relaxers contain a synthetic phthalate called Di-2-ethyl hexyl phthalate (DEHP). DEHP has been designated a probable human carcinogen by the U.S. EPA and is known to cause significant adverse-health effects including developmental abnormalities and infertility. The most serious side effect of using hair relaxers is the risk of developing uterine or ovarian cancer. The current lawsuits allege that the manufacturers of hair straightening products knew of these risks but failed to warn women of the dangers. So, women used these products regularly, thinking they were safe.
How Can I Stay Healthy?
The best way to stay healthy, considering these recent findings, is to stop using hair relaxers all together. If that is not possible, limiting your use of these products is better than continuing to use them as you have been. Staying physically active and maintaining a healthy weight may further lower your chances of developing cancer.
Do I Qualify to File a Hair Relaxer Cancer Claim?
If you have a history of using hair relaxing products regularly and have developed uterine or ovarian cancer, you may have a claim. The best way to determine if you have a claim is to contact one of our hair relaxer lawsuit attorneys. Your lawyer can determine if you are within your state’s statute of limitations and have enough exposure to file a claim. The beauty industry has a responsibility to protect consumers, and they have failed. It’s time to hold these companies accountable for the harm they have caused.
Contact Us About a Hair Relaxer Cancer Lawsuit
If you believe you may have developed uterine or ovarian cancer from using hair relaxing products, contact the experienced product liability attorneys at The Collins Law Firm as soon as possible. You do not want to miss the time deadline to file a claim. Our team can help determine if you have a case and ensure you get the justice you deserve. Call us at (630) 527-1595 or fill out our contact form for a FREE evaluation of your case.