A federal lawsuit has been filed against L’Oreal and other manufacturers and distributors of hair straightening products have been linked to a higher incidence of uterine cancer in those who use the product frequently.
According to the National Institutes of Health, “Women who used chemical hair straightening products were at higher risk for uterine cancer compared to women who did not report using these products. The researchers found no associations with uterine cancer for other hair products that the women reported using, including hair dyes, bleach, highlights, or perms.
The study data includes 33,497 U.S. women ages 35-74 participating in the Sister Study, a study led by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of NIH, that seeks to identify risk factors for breast cancer and other health conditions. The women were followed for almost 11 years and during that time 378 uterine cancer cases were diagnosed.
The researchers found that 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.”
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Jenny Mitchell filed the lawsuit in the Northern District of Illinois after she was diagnosed with uterine cancer and underwent a hysterectomy. In a federal lawsuit filed last week in the Northern District of Illinois, Mitchell blames the hair products that she’s been using since she was in grade school. Naming five companies as defendants, including L’Oréal, Mitchell alleges that the chemical hair straighteners she had been applying to her scalp for decades caused her cancer, which she said does not run in her family.
Mitchell’s lawsuit was filed days after the National Institutes of Health released a study that found that women who frequently use hair-straightening products are at a higher risk of developing uterine cancer than women who do not use them. Tracking nearly 34,000 women in the United States over a decade, the study found that the risk more than doubled among women who reported frequent use of chemical straighteners, compared with those who didn’t use the products.
According to the lawsuit, “Black people make up about 13 percent of the U.S. population, but by one estimate, African-American spending accounts for as much as 22 percent of the $42 billion-a-year personal care products market, suggesting that they buy and use more of such products –including those with potentially harmful ingredients– than Americans as a whole. In an analysis of ingredients in 1,177 beauty and personal care products marketed to Black women, about one in twelve (12) was ranked highly hazardous on the scoring system of EWG’s Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database, a free online resource for finding less-hazardous alternatives to personal care products. The worst-scoring products marketed to black women were hair relaxers, and hair colors and bleaching products. Each of these categories had an average product score indicating high potential hazard.”
EWG or Environmental Working Group is a advocacy group concerning environmental hazards in food supplies, healthcare products, and grooming products.
In their news release, the NIH added, “The researchers did not collect information on brands or ingredients in the hair products the women used. However, in the paper, they note that several chemicals that have been found in straighteners (such as parabens, bisphenol A, metals, and formaldehyde) could be contributing to the increased uterine cancer risk observed. Chemical exposure from hair product use, especially straighteners, could be more concerning than other personal care products due to increased absorption through the scalp which may be exacerbated by burns and lesions caused by straighteners.”
If you have used a hair straightener and been diagnosed with uterine cancer, please contact us for a free initial consultation.