Study Shows Use of Hair Straighteners Linked To Higher Risk of Uterine Cancer

10/20/2022 12:00 AM EDT by WBLS Staff

There have been at least 65,000 new cases of uterine cancer in the U.S. this year, according to the study.

Woman who use chemical hair straighteners are at a higher risk of developing uterine cancer than women who do not use them, according to a recent study from the National Institutes of Health. The researchers found that African American women were the racial group with frequent usage of straighteners and thus are more at risk.The study followed participants for 10.9 years. The participants were 7.4% Black/African American, 4.4% Hispanic/Latina non-Black, 85.6% non-Hispanic White, and 2.5% all other race and ethnicity. At the end of the study, researchers found a higher uterine cancer rate for women who self-reported ever using or frequently using a chemical straightener. "Although no differences in the hazard ratios between racial and ethnic groups were observed, the adverse health effects associated with straightener use could be more consequential for African American and/or Black women because of the higher prevalence and frequency of hair product use, younger age of initiating use, and harsher chemical formulations", the report stated. study also noted that hair straightening processes such as flat irons and blow drying can increase chemical exposure due to lesions on the scalp. "Notably, chemical exposure through the pathway of hair product use, especially straighteners, could be more concerning than other personal care products. Higher percutaneous absorption of chemicals has been observed in scalp compared with other skin such as on the forearm, palm, and abdomen. Straightener use may cause scalp lesions and burns, which facilitates the permeability of chemicals through the scalp. Heating processes such as flat ironing or blow drying during straightening treatments could release or thermally decompose chemicals from the products, leading to potential higher exposures to hazardous chemicals among the users. Greene, a law professor at Drexel Kline School of Law who studies Black hair discrimination, added to the conversation in an NBC News interview. "Pressure to adhere to societal beauty standards that glorify and prioritize hair textures and styles associated with white people have led some Black people to rely on harmful hair care products like chemical relaxers to look the part." She adds, “Oftentimes this leads to temporary or permanent hair loss, chemical burns to our scalps, in addition to the possibilities that we’re going to have to engage in financial, emotional, as well as temporal investments to try to repair the harm. If you care about Black women’s health, you have to care about our hair."