On Oct. 17, 2022, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced that its study found women who use chemical hair straightening products face an increased risk of developing uterine cancer.

Nearly 33,497 women in the U.S. ages 35-74 participated in the study and were followed for almost 11 years by researchers. During that time, 378 of the women developed uterine cancer. The researchers found that women who used hair straighteners more than four times in the previous year were more than twice as likely to develop uterine cancer compared to women who didn’t use them.

Alexandra White, Ph.D. and the lead author of the study, says that around 1.64% of women who never use hair straighteners will develop uterine cancer by around age 70, but for frequent users, the risk increases to around 4.05%. The study found no association with uterine cancer for other hair products participants reported using, including hair dyes, bleach, highlights, or perms.

FDA Proposes Ban on Hair Straightening Products Over Cancer Risk

In October 2023, USA Today reported that a proposed ruling by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would ban the usage of formaldehyde and formaldehyde-like chemicals found in hair straightening and relaxing products that are linked to cancer. In order for the ban to take effect, the FDA must first take comments from the public before ending the process, issuing a new proposed rule, or issuing a final rule.

USA Today also reports that March 2023, Reps. Ayanna Presley, D-Mass, and Shontel Brown, D-Ohio, wrote to Robert Califf, the commission of the FDA, urging the agency to look into the link between chemical hair straighteners and relaxers and an increased risk of cancer.

Black Women Are Particularly at Risk

Around 60% of the participants in the study who reported using chemical hair straighteners during the past year self-identified as Black women.

Che-Jun Chang, Ph.D. and an author of the study says that because Black women use hair straightening and relaxing products more frequently and tend to begin using them at an earlier age than women of other races and ethnicities, the findings of the study may be particularly relevant for them.

Uterine cancer is the most common cancer of the female reproductive system, and nearly 66,000 new cases are estimated to be reported in total in 2022. Rates of this type of cancer are increasing, especially among Black women.

How Chemical Hair Straighteners Are Causing Uterine Cancer

According to the NIH’s press release, prior studies have shown that chemical hair straighteners can increase the risk of hormone-related cancers in women.

That’s because certain chemicals in the products, such as parabens, bisphenol A, metals, and formaldehyde, may disrupt hormones or be potentially carcinogenic.  In addition, these chemicals may be more readily absorbed by the scalp. This absorption may be worsened due to the abrasions and inflammation they can cause to scalp skin.

We’re Helping Chemical Hair Straightener Victims Get Compensation

If you or someone you love used a chemical hair straightener and later developed uterine, ovarian, or endometrial cancer, we want to help you get the money you deserve. Female reproductive cancers can be devastating and often result in significant medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. It’s our goal to help victims move forward as best they can.

Contact the defective product lawyers at Ferrer, Poirot & Wansbrough today for a free consultation. We have years of experience going up against some of the biggest product manufacturers in the world, we’ll put that experience to work for you and your loved ones.