Do Hair Relaxers Cause Uterine Cancer?

Chemical hair straightening products actually change the structure of your hair. They straighten or relax it. Permanent hair straightening product effects can last several months. (1)

Scientists are uncovering a strong link between an increased risk of cancer in women and the use of chemical hair relaxers and pressing products. Previous research suggested hair straightening chemicals might be linked with an increased risk of ovarian cancers. (2)

Now, new research suggests use of hair straightening products can be linked to an increased risk of uterine cancer. Black women may face a greater risk of developing uterine cancer because they use these products frequently. (3)

According to a National Institutes of Health (NIH) study, “Women who used chemical hair straightening products were at higher risk for uterine cancer compared to women who did not report using these products.” (4)

Which Hair Relaxers Are Linked to Uterine Cancer?

NIH did not name specific brands in its study. However, researchers noted several chemicals found in hair straighteners “could be contributing to the increased uterine cancer risk observed.” Toxic chemicals that make people sick include: (5)

  • Parabens.
  • Bisphenol A.
  • Metals.
  • Formaldehyde.

Exposure to dangerous chemicals, especially those found in straighteners, could be more alarming than use of other personal care products. The reason is you may absorb more of these chemicals through your scalp, due to burns and lesions from straighteners. (6)

Major cosmetic companies are now faced with lawsuits for hair relaxers causing cancer in women.

The first lawsuits were filed against these companies:

  • L’Oreal.
  • SoftSheen Carson.
  • Strength of Nature.
  • Dabur.
  • Namaste Laboratories.

If you or a loved one have developed uterine cancer by using these hair products, contact us today to understand your legal rights.

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African American and Hispanic Women at Highest Risk

According to the NIH study, frequent use of hair relaxers or chemical hair straightening products is a critical risk factor. Frequent use was “defined as more than four times in the previous year.” Women who used these products frequently “were more than twice as likely to go on to develop uterine cancer compared to those who did not use the products.” (7)

Black women often start using chemical hair straightening products at an earlier age. And their risk may be greater. (8)

“Approximately 60% of the participants who reported using straighteners in the previous year were self-identified Black women … 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.” (9)

Both Latina and Black women may turn to chemical products because their hair is not naturally straight. The beauty standards in our society often prize straight hair. And women with naturally curly or wavy hair may feel pressured to conform to be accepted. (10)

Dangerous Chemicals in Hair Straightening Products

Hair straightening products can contain hazardous chemicals. These chemicals can disrupt a woman’s hormonal balance and introduce cancer-causing properties. (11)

In addition to formaldehyde, dangerous chemicals in hair products include diethanolamine, phthalates, benzophenone-3, and triclosan. Some of these compounds may not only endanger human health but are also environmental hazards. (12)

These toxic chemicals may lead to respiratory problems, endocrine disruption, “developmental and reproductive toxicity, dermal effects, environmental persistence, and bioaccumulation.” (13)

How Hair Relaxers and Straighteners Work

Hair relaxers rely on chemicals. These chemicals work on highly coiled hair by breaking the hair’s disulfide bonds. The chemicals then restructure these bonds. (14)

Chemical hair straightening products usually come in kits. The kits include “a protective gel, a relaxing cream, a liquid activator, and a neutralizing shampoo.” (15)

Keratin or Brazilian hair straightening products refer to two different types of treatments. Brazilian keratin treatments usually contain formaldehyde along with other keratin smoothing treatments. The formaldehyde “forms cross-links with the keratin amino acids in hair,” straightening it. Use of a heated flat iron adds to the effect. (16)

Japanese heat straighteners combine keratin straighteners and hair relaxers. The treatment process involves two steps. First, a chemical treatment breaks the disulfide bonds in your hair. Next, a neutralizing chemical and the application of heat restructure these bonds. (17)

Hair straightening products also can be painful. They can burn when you use them. (18)

If you have developed a serious health condition as a result of using chemical hair products, contact us today for a free case review.

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Women Suing Hair Relaxer Manufacturers

Law firms are already filing federal lawsuits against L’Oreal and other companies on behalf of women who suffered serious injuries after using chemical hair straighteners. The lawsuits are claiming the dangerous chemicals are to blame. Women who used these products developed uterine cancer and other severe health complications. (19)

These health effects are extremely serious. Several women already underwent a hysterectomy. Others said their uterine cancer has spread aggressively. The cancers are most likely to affect a woman’s reproductive organs, such as her uterus, cervix, ovaries, and fallopian tubes. The changes are life changing and may be life threatening. These cancers are also incredibly painful. (20)

Your Legal Options

Any woman who has developed uterine, endometrial, or ovarian cancer after frequent use of hair straightening products should reach out to an attorney. Choose someone with a national presence and with experience handling medically complex product liability cases. Someone with a history of going up against some of the largest companies out there — and winning.

We encourage anyone who has been severely harmed by hair relaxers or straightening products to contact us. Already, we have filed lawsuits against negligent cosmetic companies and others that have put your lives at risk.

We can provide you with information about your legal options. We can guide you through the process each step of the way.

The attorneys at W&L may be able to help you receive compensation for your pain and suffering — past, present, and future.

How W&L Can Help

W&L is recognized as an experienced national personal injury firm with success in consumer protection cases. We make it a point to stand up to large companies when their actions and choices endanger people’s lives.

We have the necessary resources at hand and are fully prepared to take this fight as far as it needs to go. We stop at nothing legally to secure justice for our clients. And we have a solid history of winning. Examples include:

  • Weitz & Luxenberg helped secure a settlement with Monsanto on behalf of nearly 100,000 people across the country who were diagnosed with cancer after being exposed to the toxic weedkiller Roundup.
  • Weitz & Luxenberg helped win a jury verdict of $9 billion on behalf of a man who developed bladder cancer after taking the diabetes drug Actos.
  • Weitz & Luxenberg helped achieve settlements with JUUL Labs, Inc., a manufacturer of e-cigarettes targeting children and teens, on behalf of nearly 10,000 people who used these dangerous devices, developing nicotine addiction and other injuries.