5 Statistics on Cancer Caused by Hair Straighteners

January 25, 2023
5 Statistics on Cancer Caused by Hair Straighteners

Chemical hair straighteners contain toxic endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) that can increase the chance of developing cancer. Women who use hair straighteners at least four times a year expose themselves to a greater risk of suffering from uterine cancer.

Women who received a uterine cancer diagnosis after consistently using hair straightening products have filed hair straightener cancer lawsuits to pursue compensation for damages. Manufacturers of hair straighteners, such as L’Oreal, Strength of Nature, and Namaste Laboratories, have been named as defendants in lawsuits for failing to warn consumers of the cancerous chemicals in their products.

The following are a few notable statistics that illustrate the situation surrounding the hair straightener cancer risk controversy.

378 Women Developed Uterine Cancer from Hair Straightener Use Over the Course of an Eleven-Year Study

Litigation regarding hair straighteners causing uterine cancer stems from a National Institute of Health (NIH) study released in October 2022. The study collected data from research conducted by an NIH subsidiary referred to as the Sister Study. The NIH study used data collected from 33,497 women involved in the Sister Study, all aged 35-74. Women answered a questionnaire at the beginning of the study and another one every year that established what hair care products they used and what health conditions they had been diagnosed with.

Throughout the eleven-year study, 378 cases of uterine cancer were reported. That may not seem like a lot at first glance, but the number becomes a far greater issue when you realize how those women were diagnosed with uterine cancer. They reported the use of hair straightening products, which have been found to contain endocrine-disrupting chemicals that can cause cancer. The cases of uterine cancer reported in this study came directly from the use of hair straighteners.

4.05% of Women Who Use Hair Straighteners Develop Uterine Cancer by 70

The NIH study found that women who use hair straighteners at least four times a year are more than twice as likely to suffer from uterine cancer than women who do not use hair straighteners. Alexandra White, the head of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Environment and Cancer Epidemiology group and the study's lead researcher, spoke about the risk hair straightener users have of uterine cancer. “We estimated that 1.64% of women who never used hair straighteners would go on to develop uterine cancer by the age of 70; but for frequent users, that risk goes up to 4.05%.”

Hair straighteners can cause uterine cancer because of endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs). These are toxic chemicals that can interfere with the body’s hormone levels and cause harm in the form of cancer. Some of the EDCs contained in hair straighteners include phthalates, bisphenol A (BPA), parabens, and formaldehyde. These toxic chemicals can enter the body through scalp absorption and infect the uterus’ cells, causing uterine cancer.

About 3% of Women Develop Uterine Cancer At Some Point in Their Life

The basis for hair straightener lawsuits is the diagnosis of uterine cancer in women who consistently use hair straightening products. According to Healthline, about 3% of women develop uterine cancer at some point in their lives, making it the fourth most common form of cancer for women in the United States. Healthline got this information from Dr. Melissa L. Torrey, the director of the Breast Cancer Program at Redlands Community Hospital.

There are two common types of uterine cancer: uterine sarcoma and endometrial cancer. The difference between the two is where a woman’s cancer develops in the uterus. Endometrial cancer develops in the uterus’ inner lining (endometrium), whereas uterine sarcoma occurs when cancerous cells develop in the uterus’ muscle wall (myometrium). All forms of uterine cancer can negatively alter a person’s life, as they will have to deal with abdominal and pelvic pain, unusual vaginal discharge, and abnormal bleeding between periods.

Black Women Accounted for 60% of Women Who Reported Using Hair Straighteners

Of the women in the NIH study who reported using hair straighteners, about 60% were black women. This is such an alarming statistic because black women only accounted for 7.4% of the women involved in the study. While the study did not research the likelihood of women of different races suffering from uterine cancer, one can assume black women are most at risk because of the prevalence of hair straightener usage.

The prevalent use of hair straighteners for black women comes down to the pressure to live up to eurocentric beauty standards. They feel the pressure of wearing their hair in a way that can blend in with societal norms, including artificially straightening it with chemical hair straighteners. A 2020 Michigan State study indicated that 80% of black women alter their hair to adhere to common beauty standards to avoid discrimination and increase their chances of economic success. This pressure leads to using hair straighteners earlier in life, which can increase their chances of suffering uterine cancer.

Eleven Hair Straightener Cancer Lawsuits Were Filed in October and November 2022

After the NIH study revealed the connection between consistent hair straightener use and uterine cancer risk, many women filed hair straightener uterine cancer lawsuits with hair straightener manufacturers. Eleven of these lawsuits were filed in the immediate aftermath back in October and November of 2022, with some projections predicting we could see hundreds of thousands of lawsuits.

On January 23rd, 2023, there will be an oral hearing before the Judicial Panel on Multi-District Litigation (JPML) about the consolidation of hair straightener lawsuits before one judge. The JPML could consolidate the hair straightener lawsuits into a multi-district litigation, possibly resulting in the largest class action lawsuit in United States history. The benefit of an MDL is that it streamlines discovery, allows plaintiffs to pool their resources, and can increase the chances of a global settlement.

Contact Dolman Law Group for Help With Your Hair Straightener Lawsuit

Dolman Law Group is a personal injury firm currently helping victims of uterine cancer caused by hair straightener use. We understand the damages caused by uterine cancer from hair straightener use, including medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Our product liability lawyers can represent your interests in a hair straightener uterine cancer lawsuit and keep you up-to-date on any hair straightener uterine cancer MDL that develops. Contact us today for a free consultation to learn how our product liability attorneys can help with the process of your hair straightener uterine cancer lawsuit.

Matthew Dolman

Clearwater Personal Injury and Insurance Attorney

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has represented over 11,000 injury victims and has served as lead counsel in over 1000 lawsuits. Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess or $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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