Do you use chemical hair relaxers to straighten your hair? If you do, you are at greater risk of having cancer.
Many who developed cancer after using these products are joining hair straightener cancer lawsuits to seek compensation for their damages.
However, the status of this litigation is still unknown. This post will overview the recent hair straightener cancer lawsuit update.
The Scientific Connection Between Hair Straightening Products and Uterine Cancer
Researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that women who use chemical hair relaxers to straighten their hair are at higher risk of uterine cancer. This study was recently published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (JNCI).
The study also revealed that the most prevalent type of uterine cancer, endometrial cancer, disproportionately affects black women.
Regular users of these products had twice the risk of uterine cancer compared to the general public that does not use hair straighteners. A regular user uses hair relaxers four or more times yearly.
For many years, medical professionals were baffled by the disproportionate rate of uterine cancer among black women. Ideally, black women are not more likely to suffer from ovarian or uterine cancer.
According to this study, race does not influence the association between hair straightener usage and cancer rate. Instead, black women are more severely affected than other racial groups because they use hair relaxer products more frequently.
Hair Straighteners and Uterine Cancer Diagnoses
The primary purpose of chemical-based hair straighteners is to straighten curly hair by dismantling its structure. Users have to apply these products regularly to retain the desired effect.
Unfortunately, this frequent usage is now thought to place them at risk for ovarian, uterine, and uterine fibroids, requiring invasive treatments, such as surgery.
The EDCs have, at the very least, been proven to have harmful impacts on health and are the likely cause of these cancers. In particular, hair relaxer use is now conclusively linked to an increased risk of uterine cancer.
The Novel Hair Straightener Lawsuit Began in 2022
Jenny Mitchell filed the first hair straightener cancer lawsuit at the Northern District of Illinois federal court after being diagnosed with uterine cancer in 2018.
In this lawsuit, Mitchell claimed that exposure to EDCs in the hair straighteners she used caused her to develop uterine cancer at the age of 28. Then, before turning thirty, she had a hysterectomy, which left her infertile.
Mitchell, therefore, argues that hair straightening products were the cause of her uterine cancer. Although hers was the first hair straightener cancer lawsuit, many others did not take long to follow.
The ongoing hair straightener cancer lawsuit has recently seen more plaintiffs file claims.
Hair Straightener Cancer Lawsuit Basics
Hair products should meet strict safety regulations like any other cosmetic or household product. Personal care products should be safe and not risk the health of consumers.
Unfortunately, the cosmetic sector is not regulated by the FDA, so manufacturers do not care to meet safety standards.
Victims can use the presence of carcinogenic substances as a valid ground for a lawsuit to pursue compensation for injuries caused by a manufacturer’s negligence.
Do the Chemicals in Hair Straighteners Cause Uterine Cancer?
The relationship between EDCs and uterine cancer
Many hair straighteners contain EDCs, which change and disturb the function of the human endocrine system. Any endocrine system disruption can make you susceptible to hormone-based severe illnesses like obesity, diabetes, and cancer.
High rates of hair straightener uterine cancer
Numerous studies have analyzed the link between EDCs and uterine cancer. Hair straighteners contain significant EDCs, including parabens, phthalates, and fragrances.
Studies are increasingly showing a relationship between hair relaxer use and uterine cancer.
In 2010, Environment Health Perspectives published a study showing that black women used hair straighteners more often and had more significant amounts of phthalates and parabens in their bodies.
The study offers a potential explanation of why black women disproportionately suffer from uterine and breast cancers compared to their white counterparts.
Other hormone-based cancers
The hormone estrogen is responsible for the growth and development of uterine and ovarian cancers. EDCs can promote the overproduction of cells and lead to the development of three hormone-based cancers – uterine, ovarian, and breast cancer.
The most prevalent one reported in the National Institutes of Health study was uterine cancer, said to develop through an endometrioid.
Endocrine disruptors included in hair straighteners are more likely to be the cause since endometrial cancer is highly susceptible to hormonal factors.
Devastating impacts of hair straightener cancer on Black women
This study was a follow-up investigation of previous research. The International Journal of Cancer found a possible connection between using hair relaxers and increased ovarian and breast cancer rates.
This recent study evaluated the Sister Study’s findings, which the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences conducted.
The Sister Study included 33,500 female participants aged between 35 and 74 in the U.S. who reported their usage of hair straighteners and other hair products in questionnaires.
Out of 33,497 study participants, there were 378 incidences of uterine cancer. Only 1.64% of women who said they had never used hair straightening products were diagnosed with uterine cancer by the time they turned 70.
However, by age 70, 4.05% of women admitted to using hair straighteners had uterine cancer.
Regular users are at higher risk of cancer.
The study thus concluded that those frequently used hair relaxers were more at risk of uterine cancer than non-users. The risk was noticeably higher, even with limited use every year.
Uterine cancer is relatively uncommon, and these figures equal the single digits. Still, they suggest an apparent increase in risk that can be linked to hair straightener usage.
The study subjects who reported using hair straightening products were twice as likely to be diagnosed with uterine cancer as those who never utilized hair straighteners.
Additionally, even though these are only single-digit figures, they translate to thousands of uterine cancer incidences when tabulated against the staggering number of women who apply these products.
Can Hair Products Increase Uterine Cancer Risk?
The JNCI study never asked about the particular hair straightener brands used by the study subjects. But it established that only those who used hair straighteners were at risk of uterine cancer.
The study did not find a similar link to uterine cancer with other hair products like dyes and highlights.
Nevertheless, researchers are actively scrutinizing these products because past studies found a possible connection between the products and other types of cancer.
The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) research also used the Sister Study’s findings.
The researchers found 2,794 breast cancer incidences following hair straightener use and a 30% rise in breast cancer risk among women who used hair relaxers every five to eight weeks.
How Do Hair Straighteners Increase Uterine Cancer Risk?
The scientific evidence does not explain how relaxing hair increases the risk of uterine cancer. Research has only suggested the presence of a relationship while making predictions on the role of hair straighteners.
Researchers think that endocrine disruptors in some substances are to blame for the increased risk of numerous medical conditions, including obesity, diabetes, ad cancer.
An evident fact is that African American women are twice at risk of uterine cancer, particularly endometrial cancer.
Studies also reveal that these hair straighteners have harsh chemical compositions necessary to dismantle the structure of curly or wavy hair to achieve the desired texture.
The cancers linked to these products result from hormonal disruptions. Scientists believe that this could be how hair straightening products increase cancer risk.
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Researchers theorize that EDCs in hair straighteners, such as formaldehyde and parabens, penetrate the scalp directly when the product is applied to the hair. These chemicals further introduce estrogen properties into the body, leading to the rapid development of uterine cancer.
Higher Cancer Risk Among Black Women
Uterine cancer is relatively rare. Yet, research shows that the rate of uterine cancer among black women is significantly higher than in other races.
Only 7.4% of the National Institute of Health study participants were African American. Yet, they comprised 59.9% of those who reported using hair relaxers.
Another study revealed that African American women who frequently applied permanent dyes on their hair were 60% at risk of breast cancer, compared to their white counterparts, who were 8% at risk.
Another notable finding is that black women are the target market for hair straightening products. They relax their hair due to the desire to meet Eurocentric ideals of beauty and cosmetic flexibility.
They use these products more than other ethnicities and use them earlier in life. Black women are also believed to use different products simultaneously, which probably contributes to the cancer risk.
Researchers believe that the frequent use of these chemicals (four or more times per year) is why uterine cancer incidence is higher among black women. Besides, other products have negligible impact on uterine cancer.
Researchers also hold that exposure to chemicals in hair straighteners at a tender age is disturbing since their bodies absorb more chemicals through the scalp. Besides, the products cause burns, further increasing the chemical absorption through the scalp.
Uterine Cancer and its Impacts
As the name suggests, uterine cancer occurs in the uterus and usually begins in the endometrium (uterus lining). It is a widespread type of cancer that affects the female reproductive system.
But when detected early, it is curable via a hysterectomy or other treatments like chemotherapy and immunotherapy.
Types of uterine cancer
There are two uterine cancer types – endometrial cancer and uterine sarcoma.
Endometrial cancer, or endometrial carcinoma, occurs in the uterus lining and is the most prevalent type of uterine cancer.
It develops when cells in the uterine lining multiply and proliferate excessively. Endometrial cancer is classified into several subtypes based on the microscopic appearance of the cancer cells.
Uterine sarcoma is relatively uncommon. It develops in the uterus tissue and muscle. This malignancy is hormone-based, as with many other uterine cancers.
The hormone estrogen is responsible for ovarian or uterine cancer growth, so EDCs are a risk factor for the two cancer types.
Recent Updates on the Hair Straightener Cancer Lawsuit
May 1, 2023
In the past, individuals filing product liability lawsuits against manufacturers of hair straighteners had to do so in their state’s federal court and appeal to have the case moved to the Northern District of Illinois as a multidistrict litigation (MDL).
But Judge Rowland, the MDL’s administrative judge, is now allowing people to file directly through a short-form petition, making it easy to join the MDL.
The MDL had about 100 cases at the beginning of the month. But this number will likely increase thanks to this ruling.
February 8, 2023
The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) consolidated all ongoing hair straightener cancer lawsuits filed nationwide into an MDL. The JPML did this in the Northern District of Illinois, overseen by Judge Rowland.
The MDL began with 60 lawsuits only, but many others will likely be added going forward. The case could become vast litigation in the next few months.
The defendants named in this case oppose the formation of the MDL. They claim that the MDL was unsuitable since the lawsuit names different competitor hair straightener producers and plaintiffs applied different product brands in their lifetime.
Defendants also claim that no specific chemical is blamed for the damages the plaintiffs sustained.
January 26, 2023
The JPML heard opinions for and against an MDL in Miami today. Plaintiffs blamed chemicals in hair relaxer products like Just for Me, Dark & Lovely, and Cantu Shea Butter Relaxer, among others, for their development of uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, and uterine fibroids, which required a hysterectomy.
The plaintiffs also argue that manufacturers marketed these products to black women. They, therefore, request the merging of all hair straightener cancer lawsuits in the Northern District of Illinois.
Hair straightener manufacturers, on the other hand, argue against the consolidation of the lawsuits arguing that it is an ineffective option because the case involves multiple defendants and illnesses.
They also do not support using the Northern District of Illinois as a central venue and suggest the Southern District of New York as an alternative venue.
December 17, 2022
The JPML heard oral opinions on consolidating the ongoing hair straightener cancer lawsuits into an MDL. Several plaintiffs argue in the affirmative, saying it will help rationalize the discovery phase and schedule bellwether trials soon.
Generally, MDLs help prevent unnecessary repetitions during discovery across likely thousands of lawsuits. An MDL also avoids a case of conflict in pre-trial decisions, where witnesses would have to travel across the country to show up in different lawsuits.
December 11, 2022
A hearing to decide whether all ongoing hair relaxer cases filed across the United States should be merged into one court has been set for January 26, 2023, in Miami. Defendants criticize the move to create an MDL because of the many products and defendants in question.
November 15, 2022
Several plaintiffs filed a motion to transfer the cases and create a countrywide hair straightener cancer MDL.
They are seeking the consolidation of all hair straightener cancer lawsuits currently ongoing in federal courts across the country and bring them under one jurisdiction presided over by a single judge.
The plaintiffs suggested consolidating all actions in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
November 4, 2022
On November 3, 2022, a class action was submitted to the Northern District of Illinois’ federal district court.
Softsheen Carson, Inc. and L’Oreal USA, Inc. are listed as defendants in the case, seeking class-action status on behalf of named plaintiffs and other parties in a comparable situation.
Female plaintiffs contend they bought hair straighteners containing EDCs, which they would never have done if they knew the products contained potentially harmful substances.
All plaintiffs explicitly acknowledge they are yet to be diagnosed with a condition linked to the hair straightening products, which makes this class action unique.
Still, they demand that the defendants compensate for medical care, including preventative screenings and examinations.
October 22, 2022
Ben Crump, a renowned civil rights lawyer, sued L’Oreal on Jenny Mitchell’s behalf. Ben Crump argues that the plaintiff’s habitual utilization of Dark & Lovely, a hair relaxer brand made by L’Oreal, contributed to the growth of uterine cancer.
Mitchell’s lawsuit came after a study recently published in the JNCI demonstrated that women who routinely used hair straighteners were twice at risk of acquiring uterine cancer.
Defendants In The Hair Straightener Cancer Lawsuit
L’Oreal is the primary defendant in the ongoing hair relaxer cancer lawsuit. L’Oreal manufactures popular hair relaxers like Soft & Beautiful and Dark & Lovely.
Other manufacturers with competitor products, including Unilever and Proctor and Gamble, have also been named in these lawsuits.
But smaller manufacturers may also be named in the upcoming lawsuits. They include:
- Avlon Industries
- Beauty Bell Enterprises
- Dabur International
- House of Cheatham
- Namaste Laboratories
- Parfums De Coeur
- Softsheen Carson, Inc.
Potential Hair Straightener Brands
Some popular hair straightener brands likely to be named in the ongoing hair straightener cancer lawsuit are:
- African Pride
- Creme of Nature
- Dar & Lovely
- Just For Me
- Motions Hair Relaxer
- ORS Olive Oil
- Positively Smooth Relaxer System
- Soft & Beautiful
- TCB Naturals Relaxer Crème
- Ultra Sheen
A Hair Straightener Cancer Lawsuit Attorney Can Help
You can join the ongoing hair straightener cancer MDL if you developed uterine cancer after using hair straighteners. However, MDLs are complex, and you cannot get the compensation you deserve without legal representation.
At Legal Giant, we connect you with an experienced lawyer to review your case and guide you on the way forward. Our partner attorneys are familiar with product liability laws and will do everything to ensure your hair straightener cancer lawsuit is successful.
Contact us for a free case evaluation today.