Hair straightening and hair relaxing products are used by women across the United States every year to straighten out their hair. There are chemicals found in these straighteners and relaxers that have been linked to cancer.
Plaintiffs have filed lawsuits against the hair relaxer manufacturers because they failed to warn consumers about the increased risks of cancer. The plaintiffs allege that the companies knew about cancer but continued to sell their products.
If you have used hair straighteners with harmful chemicals that have been linked to cancer and developed uterine cancer, breast cancer, or another cancer as a result, you may have a case against the manufacturer.
What are hair straighteners and relaxers?
A hair straightener, also known as a hair relaxer, is a type of product that smooths and straightens hair that is normally frizzy or curly. There are non-chemical hair straightening products that use heat such as flat irons, hot combs, and blow-drying products but they only last a few days at most. Other hair straightening and relaxing products are chemical-based products applied directly to the hair. Some creams work on a more temporary basis while others are intended to be permanent. Regardless, they still use chemicals to achieve their results.
Chemical hair relaxers are a popular solution since it’s a longer-term straightener. People who have tightly curled hair or natural hair can achieve relaxed, straight hair when they might not otherwise be able to without a chemical hair relaxer. This in itself can also free up time because straight hair may be easier to manage.
Although a chemical hair straightener may produce more long-lasting straight hair than other hair straightener options, it also has some downsides. The chemicals in a chemical hair straightener can damage the hair over time, especially if the hair is fine, dry, or previously dyed. It’s also possible that a chemical hair relaxer could harm the scalp. Now, hair relaxers are also linked to certain cancers.
What chemicals are in hair relaxers?
A common ingredient in chemical hair straighteners is lye. Another name for lye is sodium hydroxide. Other chemicals that may be included in a chemical straightener include:
Some of these chemicals, such as formaldehyde, are known to be carcinogenic, which means that they can cause cancer.
What Hair Products Can Increase the Risk of Cancer?
There are thousands of hair relaxer products on the market. Some of the most popular products include:
- Africa’s Best
- African Pride
- Creme of Nature
- Dark & Lovely
- Just For Me
- Mizani Rhelaxer
- ORS Olive Oil
- Soft & Beautiful
- TCB Naturals
- Ultra Precise
- Ultra Sheen Supreme
- Elite Bistro
Why Does Chemical Hair Straightener Increase Cancer Risk?
Studies are being conducted to determine the causes of cancer in hair products such as hair straighteners and hair relaxers. Many hair products contain chemicals that have been linked to cancer. Although there is a link between chemicals in hair products and cancer, more research and studies are being conducted to determine how the chemicals are causing specific cancer within the human body.
Uterine Cancer from Hair Relaxer Chemicals
Hair straightener products can have serious side effects. The National Institute of Health (NIH) found that women who used chemical hair straightening or relaxer treatments were at an increased risk of developing uterine cancer. About 65,950 new cases of uterine cancer are diagnosed yearly.
Cancer that develops in the uterus is called uterine cancer. The uterus is a hollow, pear-shaped organ in a woman’s pelvis. The uterus is where a baby develops and grows. It’s also referred to as the womb. The most common type of uterine cancer is also called endometrial cancer. This cancer forms in the lining of the uterus called the endometrium.
Causes of Endometrial Cancer
Endometrial cancer is caused by a mutation that occurs in the cells of the endometrium or the lining of the uterus. This mutation alters the DNA of the endometrial cells. What causes this mutation to occur is unknown.
Recent Study Shows Connection Between Hair Relaxer and Uterine Cancer
A recent study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute discovered an increased risk of uterine cancer among people that use hair straightening chemicals or relaxers. The study observed 33,497 women over an 11-year period. The participants ranged in age from 35-74 and 378 of them were diagnosed with uterine cancer. The researchers found that those who used a chemical straightening product were more at risk of developing cancer.
The study showed that frequent users of chemical relaxers were more than twice as likely to develop uterine cancer compared to people who did not use hair relaxers. They define a frequent user as one who treated their hair with chemical straighteners or relaxers at least four times a year.
Breast Cancer from Hair Relaxer Chemicals
Research published by Boston University’s Black Woman Study in 2021 found that women who used hair products containing lye at least seven times over a 15-year period were at a 30% higher risk of developing breast cancer. Boston University studied 59,000 women over twenty-five years who self-identified as black to identify risk factors for breast cancer in this population.
Breast cancer develops in different parts of the breast. It can start in one or both breasts. The breast is an organ that is made up of glands, ducts, and fatty tissue. Breast cancer can be found in both men and women. Each year in the United States, about 264,000 cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in women and about 2,400 in men.
Hair Relaxers and Other Gynecological Cancer and Injuries
Other studies have also linked the use of hair relaxers with ovarian cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, it is estimated that over 21 000 women in the USA were diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2020.
Hair straighteners are also causing conditions such as endometriosis and uterine fibroids, which have been linked to infertility and preterm deliveries.
When tissue like the endometrium, which lines the inside of the uterus, grows on the outside of the uterus, a condition called endometriosis occurs. Endometriosis is painful and can lead to fertility problems.
Causes of Endometriosis
Doctors aren’t certain exactly what causes endometriosis, but the following are potential causes:
- Immune system disorders
- Peritoneal cell transformation
- Retrograde menstruation
- Surgical scar implantations
- Endometrial cell transport
- Embryonic cell transformation
File a Chemical Hair Straightener Lawsuit
If you have regularly used a chemical hair straightener that contains phthalates or formaldehyde at least four times a year and have been recently diagnosed with one or more of the following conditions, then you may have a case against the manufacturer.
- Uterine cancer
- Endometrial cancer
- Uterine sarcoma
- Ovarian cancer
- Endometriosis (that required or will require intervention)
Manufacturers of chemical hair straightening products, including L’Oréal and ORS, should have known that the chemicals in their products could be dangerous to people who used the products. Ashcraft & Gerel is committed to holding the manufacturers accountable. Contact us for a free consultation.