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Study links cancer risks to Black women hair care products

by Ezekiel J. Walker
Study links cancer risks to Black women hair care products
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On Monday, scientists at the Journal of the National Cancer Institute released new details between using certain hair straightening products, such as chemical relaxers and pressing products, and an increased risk of cancer in women.

Ongoing research previously suggested that hair straightening chemicals are associated with an increased risk of certain hormone-related cancers, including breast and ovarian cancers, and now, a new study links use of hair straightening products with an increased risk of uterine cancer. Black women may be more affected due to higher use of the products, the researchers noted.

Calls have already been made to stop selling relaxers

The study estimates that among women who did not use hair-straightening chemical products in the past 12 months, 1.6% developed uterine cancer by age 70, but about 4% of the women who frequently use such hair-straightening products developed uterine cancer by age 70.

That finding “also communicates that uterine cancer is indeed rare. However, the doubling of risk does lead to some concern,” said Chandra Jackson, an author of the study and researcher at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

“In this study, women with frequent use in the past year had an over two-fold higher risk of uterine cancer,” Jackson said. Frequent use was defined as more than four times in the previous year.

The new study includes data on nearly 34,000 women in the United States, ages 35 to 74, who completed questionnaires about their use of certain hair products, including perms, dyes, relaxers and straighteners. The researchers, from the National Institutes of Health, also tracked the incidence of cancer diagnoses within the study group.

2 comments

David October 24, 2022 - 3:36 pm

Dear Mr. Walker,
This article is egregiously misleading. One section is devoted to discussing the use of synthetic-based braids that may be made of PVC, purportedly “one of the most environmentally harmful plastics.” I’m confused as to why the article discusses PVC at all. The scientific study that is the basis of this article found an association with hair straightening chemicals, specifically straighteners, relaxers, or pressing products (see Tables 2-4 in study report). Synthetic braids were not evaluated in the study and PVC is not even mentioned once.

The growing level of straight up disinformation in many public articles is alarming.

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