Hair straighteners can cause uterine, breast and other cancers.
According to new studies, women who use chemical hair straightening products regularly are more than twice as likely to develop uterine cancer compared to women who do not use these products.
Rhona Terrel was diagnosed with uterine cancer three years ago. She had a hysterectomy to remove her uterus, cervix, ovaries, and fallopian tubes. The cancer had already spread to her liver and abdomen though. Since the diagnosis and the surgery, she has been trying to come to terms with the way the disease has forever changed her life.
Terrel said, “I don’t like to look at the survival rates…cancer is such a painful, painful, painful condition.”
Terrel and along with three other women have filed federal lawsuits against companies, including L’Oreal and other longtime hair product manufacturers, saying that the chemicals in the products from these companies are the cause of their developing uterine cancer.
Three of these four women had to have hysterectomies to control their cancer including one woman who was just 28 years old.
The lawsuits moved forward after there was a recent study by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) showing that women who frequently used hair straightening products were more than twice as likely to have uterine cancer compared to women who do not use these products. ‘Frequent use’ is defined as more than four times a year.
In a study published in the Journal of National Cancer Research on the use of straighteners and uterine cancer, specifically, approximately 60% of the women who reported using straighteners in the previous year self-identified as being Black.
“Because Black women use hair straightening or relaxer products more frequently and tend to initiate use at earlier ages than other races and ethnicities, these findings may be even more relevant for them,” said Che-Jung Chang, PhD, one of the authors of the study.
Terrell, who is 55 from Alabama, said she has been using hair-relaxing products since she was eight years old and didn’t stop until she was in her early 40s.
She was diagnosed with uterine carcinosarcoma and has had six rounds of chemotherapy along with her hysterectomy. She was in remission for about two years before she found out that cancer had returned to her liver and abdomen. She is now undergoing chemotherapy again.
She has stated that she would have never used these products if she had known of the dangers and she says that the companies need to be held accountable so that they do not put any more people in danger.
Another woman, Bernadette Gordon used relaxers in her hair from 1983 to 2015. She believes the chemicals caused her to develop breast and uterine cancer. She has to undergo six months of chemotherapy and had a double mastectomy.
She then had to have a hysterectomy and another six months of chemotherapy and radiation.
All four of the women said they were not aware of the dangers that chemical hair straighteners have and that they did not know about the increased risk of cancer until they read the study published by the NIH.
None of the companies publish anything on their packaging stating the dangers of the chemicals or that normal use can cause cancers and other life-threatening health conditions. The products also do not talk about the risk of uterine fibroids.