The Link Between Hair Relaxers and Health Risks (2024)

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Rae Fitzgerald

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Hair relaxers, primarily used by African American women, have been a staple in hair care routines for decades, offering a solution for those seeking straight, manageable hair. However, beneath the allure of these products lies a disturbing reality - a potential link between their long-term use and severe health risks.

The most concerning element in hair relaxers is a group of chemicals known as phthalates, often referred to as "plasticizers". These chemicals are noted for their durability and are commonly found in various cosmetic products, including chemical hair relaxers. Phthalates, specifically Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), are classified as endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), which can interfere with the body's hormonal system and contribute to a range of health problems.

DEHP is a synthetic chemical not naturally found in the environment and is deemed biologically toxic. It is considered a probable human carcinogen known to cause significant adverse health effects, including developmental abnormalities, reproductive dysfunction, and infertility. The alarming presence of such a harmful chemical in hair relaxers, coupled with the lack of consumer awareness, is a key driver behind the ongoing hair relaxer injury legal cases.

The potential health risks associated with hair relaxers were thrust into the spotlight following two groundbreaking studies. The first, published in October 2022, found a strong association between long-term use of hair relaxers and increased rates of uterine cancer.

The study found that women who used hair relaxers were more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with uterine cancer compared to non-users. Alarmingly, the incidence rate of uterine cancer increased even further among women who reported using hair relaxers more frequently.

The second study, conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 2021, found a 50% increased risk of ovarian cancer among women who regularly used hair relaxers (more than four times per year). Given the relative rarity of ovarian cancer and its low five-year survival rate, this connection is particularly concerning.

These two studies have provided the first substantial epidemiological evidence of a clear connection between hair relaxers and the increased risk of uterine and ovarian cancer, highlighting the urgent need for further research and regulation of these products. The findings have also paved the way for the burgeoning hair relaxer compensation case, as victims seek justice and compensation for the harm they have endured.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Scientific studies have found a strong association between long-term use of hair relaxers and increased rates of uterine and ovarian cancer. The main concern lies with the chemical Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), an endocrine-disrupting chemical found in hair relaxers, which can cause significant adverse health effects, including developmental abnormalities, reproductive dysfunction, and infertility.

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