Wallace Miller is investigating claims that consumers who use commercially available retail hair relaxers/straightening products may have an increased risk of developing uterine or endometrial cancer, as well as other health risks. If you or a loved one use hair relaxers and have subsequently received a cancer diagnosis, you may qualify for compensation. Contact the consumer protection attorneys at Wallace Miller today to discuss your potential claim.
New Research Shows Hair Relaxer Chemicals are Associated with Higher Uterine and Endometrial Cancer Risks
Scientists from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have released information on a new study that shows a concerning link between consumer hair relaxers and cancer. Researchers who were seeking to identify risk factors for breast cancer and other health conditions found that women who frequently use hair relaxers were more than twice as likely to develop uterine or endometrial cancer.
The study examined data from more than 33,000 participants between the ages of 35 and 74 and determined that women who used chemical hair relaxing products at least four times a year or more had a 4.05% risk factor of developing uterine or endometrial cancer. When compared to the estimated risk of 1.64% for individuals who have never used hair relaxers, researchers behind the study noted the increased rate as “concerning.”
In addition to uterine and endometrial cancer, research suggests that chemical hair relaxers may increase the likelihood of developing uterine fibroids, endometriosis, as well as associated complications such as infertility.
Black Women Face the Greatest Exposure Burden from Chemical Hair Relaxers
Despite the relative rarity of uterine and endometrial cancer diagnoses, the study observed the rising incidence rates in the United States, particularly among Black women. The study noted that among the participants who reported using hair relaxers in the previous year, 60% self-identified as Black women.
Authors of the study noted that Black women tend to use hair relaxing products more frequently and at earlier ages than other races and ethnicities, making the results especially relevant to their health.
Black women have historically faced excessive scrutiny and discrimination relating to their hair, and the marketing of many commercial hair relaxers reflect this. Many of the top selling brands exclusively feature Black women on their packaging and advertisements, reinforcing the stigma against their natural hair.
Chandra Jackson, one of the study’s authors, also noted that products specifically targeted to Black women frequently use more caustic formulations than products marketed to other races and ethnicities.
“Based off of the body of the literature in this area, we know that hair products marketed directly to Black children and women have been shown to contain multiple chemicals associated with disrupting hormones, and these products marketed to Black women have also been shown to have harsher chemical formulations,” said Jackson. “On top of that, we know that Black women tend to use multiple products simultaneously, which could contribute to Black women on average having higher concentrations of these hormone-disrupting chemicals in their system.”
Despite recent legislation aimed at eliminating discrimination due to the texture and style of one’s hair, many women of color still face bigotry and societal pressures for not meeting Eurocentric standards of beauty.
What Causes the Link Between Hair Relaxers and Uterine Cancer?
Researchers at NIH did not collect data on specific brands, however, they noted the presence of several chemicals that have previously been detected in commercially available hair relaxers. These chemicals include parabens, bisphenol A, metals, and formaldehyde.
Chemical exposure from hair product use can be especially concerning due to increased absorption through the scalp. When coupled with caustic and potentially carcinogenic substances, the risks can grow exponentially.
What are the Symptoms of Uterine and Endometrial Cancer?
Symptoms of uterine cancer can resemble those of many other conditions. However, there are some key early warning signs:
- Vaginal bleeding or spotting between periods or postmenopause
- Lower abdominal pain or cramping in the pelvis
- Bloody or watery discharge
- Pain during urination or sexual intercourse
- Unintentional weight loss
Talk to your healthcare provider if you experience possible signs of uterine or endometrial cancer.
The attorneys at Wallace Miller have decades of experience fighting for clients who have been harmed by dangerous products. If you believe that hair relaxer products caused you or a loved one to develop uterine or endometrial cancer, uterine fibroids, endometriosis, or a similar medical diagnosis, contact us today for a free and confidential case evaluation.