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Chemical Hair Straightening Causes Cancer: Things Women Should Do to Stay Safe 

Silky straight hair has always been serenaded as the epitome of beauty. However, not all women are born with straight hair. Most women with curly or wavy hair want to straighten their tresses and look chic. The solution appears to be one – chemical hair straightening. While it makes your hair appear stylish and glossy, it ultimately causes several health issues. The most prominent one is cancer.

A new study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute states that women who straightened their hair frequently had a higher chance of developing cancer. This study followed over 33,000 ethnically and racially diverse American women for more than a decade and concluded this.

The findings of the study align with research done earlier that states chemical straighteners result in hormone-related cancer. In this article, we will discuss how hair relaxers and straighteners cause cancer and what women should do for their safety and recovery.

Even though researchers need more studies, it is evident that exposure to excess estrogen and progesterone can increase the risk of uterine cancer in women. In most cases, it refers to endometrial cancer, as 95% of uterine cancer develops in the endometrium.

According to Jamie N. Bakkum-Gamez, M.D., a professor associated with the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, hair relaxers contain multiple chemicals that are called endocrine disruptors. The reason they have this name is that they disturb normal hormonal function in the body and cause-specific hormonal cancers.

That aside, there are other troublesome chemicals that hair straighteners and relaxers contain. Birnur Aral, the director of the Beauty, Health & Sustainability Lab, says that hair relaxers have lye, which is also called sodium hydroxide. The chemical is highly alkaline and can break the disulfide bonds present in curly hair.

There are a few other chemical hair styling products, typically keratin smoothing treatments, that contain formaldehyde, which is a carcinogen. This chemical can volatilize from the styling product and move to the gas phase. That means it re-enters the body through the mucous membranes and eyes during the hair straightening process.

Needless to say, several women have been affected because of chemical hair straightening. Jenny Mitchell is one such woman of 32 years who has been using chemical hair relaxers and straighteners since she was 10 years old. Currently, she has filed her hair straightener cancer lawsuit against five chemical hair straightening product manufacturers.

Her story, published in the Washington Post, revealed that in 2018, she was diagnosed with uterine cancer and had to opt for a hysterectomy. She has asked for monetary aid to cover all the damages she has undergone and to pay for her medical expenses. Her lawyer mentioned that in the future, similar lawsuits will go up.

TorHoerman Law states that as of February 2024, the number of hair relaxer lawsuits pending in the MDL totals 8,217. It seems that the majority of complaints are from black women, as they use chemical hair styling products to straighten their hair the most. The Resilient Sisterhood Project claims that black women are more likely to suffer from uterine cancer compared to white women.

Things Women Should Do

Since chemical hair straightening is a common styling process used by women, they must exercise caution, considering its side effects. The things that women must do to stay safe are narrowed down to two categories:

When a woman suddenly develops cancer because of chemical hair straighteners, it is evident that she has to undergo treatment. That aside, the realization of suffering from this debilitating disease is sad and traumatic. Many women lose out on their jobs and need money to pay for their medical costs and to survive.

Hence, it is necessary to get in touch with an expert lawyer and file a lawsuit. Once the lawyer confirms eligibility to file a lawsuit, the victims can share relevant evidence to prepare a solid case. The lawyers will then present the case in court and seek fair compensation for their clients.

Choosing a chemical-free alternative

If you have straightened your hair once and are hearing about the health hazards it causes, it’s best to stop another round of chemical hair treatment. Instead, search and opt for chemical-free hair styling options. A few useful options include hot oil massage, milk spray, olive oil, and egg masks.

All these options will help to improve the hair texture, get rid of frizz, and make your hair shinier than ever. The treatment options might take time to show a visible effect, but with regular use, you will see the difference, which is free from any side effects.

In conclusion, women must research their hair styling products or methods before they opt for one. Even though parlors don’t advocate using chemical hair relaxers, they also don’t inform you about the health hazards it carries. Since hair relaxers cause cancer, it is necessary to always think twice before opting for any chemical treatment. When affected after using these products, you must try to get both medical and legal aid.

Emily Taylor
Emily Taylor
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