When any product is allowed to be sold on the market, it should be fully tested and proven safe to use. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. One of the latest examples is chemical hair straighteners, which studies have now linked to an increased risk of uterine cancer.
This is a troubling revelation for many consumers, particularly Black women who comprised about 60% of the study participants. While this is a relatively new development, Join the Many is keeping a close watch on the legal happenings surrounding it and is committed to supporting victims and their families as things unfold.
If you or someone you love used chemical hair relaxers and later developed uterine or endometrial cancer, now is the time to prepare for action. When it’s time to hold manufacturers accountable, Join the Many will be ready to stand with you. For now, here is everything you need to know about chemical hair straighteners and the study behind its link to cancer.
What Is Chemical Hair Straightener?
Chemical hair straighteners or relaxers are a treatment used to change curly hair into straight hair. It works by breaking up the natural chemical bonds found in keratin, the protein that makes curly hair possible. As the chemical bonds break, curly hair relaxes into a straight look.
Those who use heat or serum to straighten their hair may find that the effect wears off over time. However, chemical straightening lasts until the hair grows out. This is because the chemicals used, even in home kits, are incredibly harsh. They include cyclosiloxanes, formaldehyde, parabens, diethanolamine, sodium hydroxide, phthalates, triclosan and benzophenone-3, according to California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control.
Types of Chemical Hair Straightening Treatments
There are a few different kinds of chemical straightening treatments, depending on what type of hair you have. Those with curlier hair may require stronger treatments that last, and these tend to be more damaging to the hair and scalp.
- Traditional chemical straighteners: These hair relaxers are usually made with sodium hydroxide. They permanently straighten hair and cause the most irritation to the scalp and damage to hair.
- Japanese heat straighteners: This method is also known as thermal reconditioning. It uses ammonium thioglycolate, lasting four to six months. It’s slightly less damaging to hair.
- Brazilian straighteners: This keratin treatment is not for very curly hair and lasts about three months. It smooths hair without breaking protein bonds. Some products contain formaldehyde.
Known Side Effects of Chemical Hair Straighteners
Before the study linking hair straighteners and relaxers to cancer, these treatments were known to cause other harmful side effects. They include:
- Allergic reactions
- Damage to the hair shaft
- Frizzy hair
- Hair discoloration
- Hair loss and/or alopecia
- Scalp inflammation
- Scalp irritation and pain
- Skin atrophy
Hair Straightener’s Link to Uterine Cancer
In October of 2022, a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute revealed a startling link between chemical hair straighteners and relaxers to various types of cancer.
The study used data from more than 33,000 women and included research on risk factors for breast cancer and other health issues. Participants were asked which hair products they had used in the last year, including straighteners, relaxers, dyes, permanents, or body waves. Researchers were specifically interested in chemical hair treatments because of concerns that the chemicals could be absorbed through the scalp.
After an average of nearly 11 years of follow-up, women who said they used chemical hair straighteners were nearly twice as likely to have developed uterine cancer than those who didn’t. Women who said they used chemical straighteners frequently (more than four times in a year) were about 2.5x more likely to develop uterine cancer.
The study indicated no links between uterine cancer and other hair products like dyes, highlights, and permanents.
Research will continue to understand if there’s a definitive answer to the question of whether or not chemical hair straighteners cause uterine cancer, including which chemicals may pose the biggest risk.
Who Is at Risk?
Based on the 2022 study, anyone who has used chemical hair straighteners or relaxers may be at risk for uterine cancer, but effects may be greater for Black women.
Of the 33,000 women whose data was used, about 60% were Black. Research did not indicate that cancer risk increases because of race. However, because Black women who participated in the study were more likely to use chemical straighteners, they were disproportionately affected.
Lawsuits Against Chemical Straightener Makers
While the study linking chemical hair relaxers to uterine cancer is fairly new, victims have thankfully wasted no time in coming forward. Consumers, especially women, who believe these products may be to blame for their cancer diagnosis are filing lawsuits against chemical hair straightening companies in the hopes they can recover damages for the pain they’ve endured and protect others from experiencing the same trauma.
Here are some of the companies named in lawsuits so far:
- Strength of Nature Global LLC
- Soft & Beautiful
- TCB Naturals
- Just for Me
- Olive Oil Girls
- Dark and Lovely
Lawsuits claim these companies knew or should have known their products were dangerous and defective because they contain highly toxic chemicals, yet they manufactured and sold them anyway. In November 2022, lawyers for victims requested the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to consolidate all of the cases in multidistrict litigation in Illinois.
Were You Harmed by Hair Straighteners?
If you believe your uterine cancer may be linked to chemical hair straightener use, we’re here for you; Join the Many. When litigation against the companies responsible for this harmful negligence takes off, we’ll be ready to get to work for you immediately.
Once we determine if your case qualifies, we can connect you with the best legal care for your situation. Join the Many only partners with legal professionals who are as committed to your comfort and peace of mind as we are. They’ll handle every aspect of your case at no upfront cost. You’ll pay no legal fees unless you’re awarded compensation.