A recent October 17, 2022 study by the U.S. The National Institute of Health reveals that women who use hair relaxers have an increased risk of uterine cancer. The researchers used data from more than 33,000 women in a large, ongoing study that examines the risk factors associated with breast cancer and other serious illnesses. Women who participated in the study were examined about the various types of hair products they utilized over the previous year, which for many included hair relaxers, straighteners, dyes, permanents, and body waves.
An average of approximately 11 years after follow-up, women who claimed to use hair-straightening products were twice as likely to have developed uterine cancer when compared to women who did not use these products. Women who claimed to routinely use straighteners at least four times in the past year were around two and a half times more inclined to develop uterine cancer. The researchers did not make a connection between uterine cancer and other hair styling products. This means as of yet, no causal relationship between cancer and things like blow dryers, hair dyes, and highlights has been found.
Existing Worries about Cancer and Hair Styling Product
Study data has been utilized in the past to review potential links between hair products and other cancers, particularly those that grow in response to hormones like breast, ovarian, and uterine cancer. Issues have been introduced about a potential connection between hair products and cancers because some chemicals placed in hair products are absorbed through the scalp. Once in the body, these chemicals have estrogen-like properties. Additionally, some hair products contain chemicals with known links to cancer, including formaldehyde. Previous research has also established a link between the usage of straightened and increased risk of breast cancer.
Breast Cancer and Hair Styling Products
The study also suggests that prolonged usage of lye-based hair straightening products can increase the risk of breast cancer, especially among African-American women. The minimal link between hair relaxers (regardless of whether they contain lye) and the risk of breast cancer is low, but the increased risk for heavy users of hair styling products containing lye is troubling.
African-American Women are More Impacted
In the existing study, approximately 60% of women who claimed to have used hair straighteners in the last year identified as African-American. The study did not locate a connection between the usage of hair straighteners and uterine cancer between races, but the implications for African-American women may be increased because they more commonly utilize these products. African-American women also tend to use these products at a younger age than others.
What the Study Results Mean
The study suggests that approximately 1.64% of women who report never using hair straighteners end up developing uterine cancer by the age of 70. For frequent users of these products, the risk of uterine cancer is raised to 4.05%. The lead author of the study has commented that this doubled rate is concerning, but it is critical to put these details into context because uterine cancer remains a rare kind of cancer.
While researchers located a potential connection between the usage of hair straighteners and uterine cancer, they did not conclude that using these products can lead to uterine cancer. As a result, additional studies are needed to clarify this matter.
Why the Study Matters
A significant need exists to remedy racial disparities in people with breast cancer. African-American women who are diagnosed with breast cancer are 40% more likely than caucasian women to pass away from the illness. Factors including diagnosis and poor health can explain part of this disparity, but they do not explain the entirety of the difference.
African-American women are more likely than caucasian women to develop aggressive breast cancers with deadly mortality rates. Researchers are not sure of the reason behind this difference, though. Researchers, however, do understand that hair relaxers, more commonly used by African-American women, contain various harmful carcinogens and chemicals that can disrupt the endocrine system.
Reducing Your Risk of Cancer From Hair Styling Products
Some people might decide to either restrict or eliminate the use of hair styling products based on these available data. If you are worried about the potential threat of cancer, you can also do other things to reduce your chances of uterine cancer, which include:
- Make sure to routinely exercise. Increased levels of exercise or physical exertion have been connected to decreased rates of uterine cancer.
- Remaining at a healthy weight. Obesity has been linked to many cases of endometrial cancer.
What Still is Not Known About Hair Styling Products and Cancer
Because the study did not go into details about specific brands of hair relaxers, the study is yet to assess exactly what certain ingredients are likely the most relevant in causing cancer.
Additionally, because the study analyzes the usage of hair relaxers before 1997, the results of the study might not end up applying to the products available in today’s market. Research suggests a connection between the use of some types of hair relaxers and cancer, but studies like this cannot unequivocally establish that hair relaxers cause cancer.
Other Research Currently Being Performed
Data from both animal and experimental studies suggest a connection between the chemicals found in hair relaxers as well as cancer. Studies on the usage of hair relaxers and breast cancer have led to inconsistent results due to the different types of products analyzed or considered for the study.
What is Next in Studying These Dangers?
Studies will continue to consider the risk factors for cancer and women, particularly African-American ones. By appreciating the causes of the disease and discovering ways to reduce the risk of cancer, society can come closer to avoiding these health issues. If you or a loved one has been harmed by exposure to hair products and later diagnosed with cancer or another serious condition, you should not hesitate to speak with an experienced Hair Relaxer Cancer lawyer. Contact the Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe today for help.
For a free legal consultation, call 516-358-6900