hair relaxer cancer lawsuit

Recent scientific evidence has pointed to a link between the use of chemical hair relaxers and the development of certain types of cancer. Product liability lawsuits have been filed against major beauty company L’Oreal, alleging that toxic chemicals in their hair relaxers led to an increased risk of uterine cancer. This lawsuit, along with other related claims, will pave the way for victims to pursue a hair relaxer cancer lawsuit.

At Reich & Binstock, our nationally-recognized mass tort attorneys are investigating claims involving certain chemical hair straighteners and their link with adverse health effects. If you have developed one of the following health conditions after using Dark & Lovely, Just for Me, or Cantu Shea Butter Relaxers, you may be entitled to financial compensation.

  • Uterine cancer
  • Endometriosis / Endometrial cancer
  • Breast cancer

To schedule a free case evaluation with us, please call our office at 713-622-7271. You can also submit a form on our contact page. We will evaluate your claim and help you determine which steps to take next.

What Is Hair Relaxer?

Hair relaxers are popular lotion or cream hair products that aim to both straighten the hair and make the hair easier to straighten. While some people prefer to straighten their hair with flat irons and heat, others prefer the semi-permanent option of chemical hair straighteners. These hair products work by using powerful chemicals to straighten the hair and relax one’s natural curls. They are typically used by those with very tight curls.

Unfortunately, recent studies have shown that chemical hair relaxers have a significant link with breast cancer development, uterine fibroids, uterine cancer, and endometriosis.

Chemicals in Hair Relaxers

In general, there are two popular types of hair relaxers. These types are lye-containing and no lye-containing products. Other names are base and no base relaxers. Many of the chemicals in hair relaxers are very harsh, and certain hair relaxers require a stylist to apply a protective base coating on their client’s scalp, ears, and hairline. Without properly protecting the skin, hair relaxer products can cause scalp inflammation, chemical burns, and hair loss.

Many hair relaxer products contain the following chemicals.

  • Sodium hydroxide
  • Potassium hydroxide
  • Lithium hydroxide
  • Guanidine hydroxide
  • Calcium hydroxide
  • Ammonium thioglycolate

Phthalates and EDCs

Although hair relaxers are used both by black women and white women, the use of hair relaxers is much more common among African American women. The purpose of hair relaxer use is to permanently or semi-permanently straighten hair by changing the chemical structure of it. Nearly all popular hair relaxer brands contain certain chemicals known as phthalates.

According to the CDC, phthalates are “a group of chemicals used to make plastics more durable.” They are also known as plasticizers. Many industrial and personal care products contain phthalates. Phthalates are known EDCs, which are endocrine-disrupting chemicals. EDCs interfere with the body’s natural production of hormones.

One specific phthalate that many hair relaxers contain is DEHP, which is Di-2-ethyl hexyl phthalate. This is a man-made chemical that is an incredibly toxic probable carcinogen. DEHP has been linked with an increased breast cancer risk, uterine fibroids, endometriosis, and even infertility.

Why do companies continue to use products that are known or highly probable cancer-causing agents? Oftentimes, these aggressive chemicals are cheaper while still getting the job done. Rather than opting for safer, more expensive alternatives, large manufacturers opt for the cheaper, riskier route, often at the expense of consumers.

How Do Hair Relaxers Work?

hair relaxers and cancer

So, how exactly do the chemicals in hair relaxer products straighten hair? Basically, the chemicals hair relaxer creams break certain chemical bonds in the hair. Specifically, they break the di-sulfide bonds in the cortex layer of the hair. When these bonds break, they then reform into straighter strands of protein.

Do Relaxers Cause Cancer?

According to a new study from the National Institutes of Health, women who use hair relaxer products may have an increased risk of uterine cancer. This finding comes from a recent study, the findings of which were published on October 17, 2022 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

More than 33,000 women took part in the study and provided researchers with crucial data. They were asked about their use of hair relaxers, as well as other hair products. Those women who reported using relaxers were found to be nearly twice as likely to develop uterine cancer compared to those who did not use relaxers. Women who used relaxers frequently (more than 4 times in the year before) were around 2.5 times more likely to develop uterine cancer.

There is a significant link between uterine cancer and hair relaxer products, but what about other types of cancer and adverse health effects? According to two studies published in 2021, regular hair relaxer use can increase one’s breast cancer risk by as much as 30%. There is also an increased risk of developing more aggressive breast cancer subtypes.

Endometriosis is a very painful condition in which tissue that is supposed to grow inside the uterus grows on the outside of it. It is a well-known cause of infertility in women. Developing endometriosis is linked with certain phthalates that are frequently found in hair products, including relaxers.

Among all women, uterine cancer is the 4th most common type of cancer. Between black and white women, however, the rate of uterine cancer is around twice as high in black women as it is in white women. The study we mentioned previously states that only 1.64% of women who have never used hair relaxers would develop uterine cancer by the age of 70. For those who used relaxer products frequently, this risk sharply rose to 4.05%.

Do Hair Perms Cause Uterine Cancer?

We cannot definitively say whether or not all hair perms may increase breast cancer risk or uterine cancer risk. However, many of the same chemicals are used for both perm products and relaxers. Therefore, we may see studies regarding cancer risks and hair perms in the near future.

According to a black women’s health study from the National Institutes of Health, black women are around three times as likely to develop uterine fibroids as white women. Recent studies and scientific research have shown that relaxer hair products may have contributed to this significant disparity. While uterine fibroids are usually not cancerous, they can cause extreme pain, excessive bleeding, anemia, and the need for surgical removal.

L’Oreal Hair Relaxer Lawsuit Update November 2022

relaxers and fibroids

On November 29, 2022, a hair relaxer uterine fibroids lawsuit was filed against L’Oreal, as well as other defendants. This is the first lawsuit filed that alleges injuries other than an increased risk of uterine cancer. However, other claims are steadily emerging that link hair relaxers with other types of cancer, as well as endometriosis.

Is There a Hair Relaxer Class Action?

Currently, there is not a hair relaxer class action lawsuit that seeks damages. These cases are still very early in litigation, so many firms are still taking these cases as individual lawsuits. A scientific study that increased awareness of these cases was published very recently. However, a class action or mass tort lawsuit is certainly possible due to widespread hair relaxer use, particularly by black women.

On November 26, 2022, a new kind of class action was filed in Michigan. Rather than paying out damages as a traditional class action suit, the case seeks funding from cosmetic companies for a medical monitoring program. The program will regularly monitor women who are at a higher risk of health problems because of the use of relaxers.

Compensation for Hair Relaxer Lawsuits

It is difficult to determine what compensation could look like for individual lawsuits without careful examination. We highly recommend speaking with a seasoned product liability lawyer about your case. At Reich & Binstock, we offer a free initial case evaluation, meaning you won’t pay a dime unless we secure a recovery on your behalf. Our attorneys will carefully evaluate the facts and evidence of your claim, and help you determine the best course of action.

Contact a Product Liability Attorney Today

Product manufacturers have certain duties to consumers, but some manufacturers and companies let their greed get the better of them. The objective of maximizing profits and cutting corners often leads to dangerous products and a lack of adequate warnings. Product manufacturers who are negligent in this way can and should be held accountable for their actions. If you developed uterine cancer, breast cancer, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids after using hair relaxer products, you may have a valid claim. Contact the personal injury attorneys at Reich & Binstock at 713-622-7271 to schedule your free consultation with us.

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