Hair Relaxer Breast Cancer Lawsuit

October 5, 2023 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman

A relaxer is a type of chemical treatment that permanently loosens or relaxes the hair, making it straighter when applied to the hair. While women of all races use hair relaxers, the practice is most common among Black women and has been a staple in Black salons for decades. 

Because many Black women and girls experience hair discrimination when they wear their hair naturally, many begin using hair relaxers in childhood and continue applying them into adulthood. While the demand for hair relaxers waned over recent years, many women are returning to the look to make caring for their hair easier.

However, a massive study on the health of Black women that began in 1995 recently indicated a link between the use of hair relaxers and estrogen-receptor-positive breast cancer. If you've been diagnosed with breast cancer and believe that your use of hair relaxer products caused it, an experienced product liability lawyer from Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA can help you determine if you're eligible to seek compensation for the impacts and expenses of your illness through a product liability claim. We can also tell you about the services our legal team can provide to assist you in the claims process. 

If You Think Hair Relaxers Caused Your Breast Cancer, Dolman Can Help

Dolman Law Group - Accident Attorneys

The attorneys at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA have garnered a reputation for being fierce advocates for their clients and for taking on even the biggest and most difficult cases, including those involving dangerous or defective products that high-powered corporations manufacture, represented by high-powered corporate lawyers.

Because hazardous commodities often result in injuries to many, similar cases are usually tried together for at least a portion of the court process in what is known as a mass tort. In this type of case, it is important to have an attorney with experience in product claims but also experience in mass tort claims to provide you with the services you need.

In addition to taking on cases involving chemical hair relaxer products and their link to various types of cancer, Dolman has experience in several types of mass tort product liability claims, including firefighting foam, Camp Lejeune water contamination, Roundup, Zantac, and many other types of dangerous drugs and defective products.

The Dolman Law Group works with local counsel in any jurisdiction outside Florida for the purpose of filing lawsuits in jurisdictions wherein we are not licensed. Thus, we will follow each State's ethical rules to ensure a local attorney is involved.

What to Do After a Breast Cancer Diagnosis

Being diagnosed with breast cancer is profoundly distressing, particularly if you believe your cancer resulted from using a dangerous product. If you feel that your diagnosis is related to the use of hair relaxers, there are several things you can do to help your case succeed, including:

  • Following your doctor's treatment plans.
  • Keeping receipts of the expenses you've incurred due to your diagnosis.
  • Journaling the treatments you have undergone, the frequency of your appointment, and the impacts that your diagnosis has had on your life.

All of these steps are important for your attorney as they establish a value to your claim based, in part, on the financial and psychological impacts of the harm that you incurred.

The Black Women's Health Study began in 1995 and involved the participation of 59,000 self-identified Black women between the ages of 21-69. The women started the study by filling out a questionnaire that asked questions about their health, lifestyle, and reproductive history. On a biennial basis, researchers followed up with additional questionnaires. More than 52,000 women answered questions about hair relaxer use.

The study excluded several hundred respondents due to already having a cancer diagnosis in the early years of the study. Of the 50,543 women who remained in the study, 2,311 women developed breast cancer between 1997-2017, including 1,843 diagnoses of invasive breast cancers and 468 diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ. Of the respondents diagnosed with invasive cancers, 286 were triple-negative.

Post-surgery breast prosthesis with pink ribbon and cotton flowers, a symbol of support for women with breast cancer.

Triple-negative breast cancer is a particularly aggressive subtype in which the cancer is estrogen-receptor-negative, progesterone-receptor-negative, and HER2-negative. explains that the hormones estrogen or progesterone or the presence of too many HER2 receptors, which are receptors on breast cells that help control how the cell grows, divides, and repairs itself, do not cause the disease growth. Around 10 percent of all breast cancers are triple-negative. The study did not establish a link between triple-negative cancers, which are more prevalent in younger women and Black women. Still, it did find an increased risk of estrogen-receptor-positive cancers.

Estrogen-receptor-positive cancers -- which many heavy users of hair relaxers are diagnosed with -- often respond positively to hormone replacement therapy treatments, and often sufferers have a better short-term outlook. However, this type of cancer commonly recurs after treatment, sometimes many years later. An estimated 75 percent of Black women use hair relaxer products, with heavy users of relaxer products that contain lye at an increased risk of developing breast cancer.

The study revealed that hair relaxers contain known carcinogens, including endocrine-disrupting chemicals such as phthalates, parabens, and formaldehyde. The study also showed that many hair relaxer formulations contain lye, which can disrupt a woman's hormonal balance and increase the risk of breast cancer. These risks were most significant among women who reported being heavy users of lye-containing hair relaxer products.

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Breast Cancer: A Financially and Psychologically Costly Disease

Personal Injury Law Firm, Dolman Law Group

As reported by Bankrate, the cost of medically treating breast cancer is between $10,000 - $200,000, depending on some factors, including:

  • Whether the patient has insurance. Uninsured patients generally pay lower prices for their medical treatments.
  • The stage of the cancer at diagnosis. Cancers in their early stages are often less difficult -- and less expensive -- to treat.
  • Whether additional types of treatments are needed, including mental health services, physical therapy, or acupuncture, which is required to treat joint pain associated with breast cancer treatment. All of these additional services mean additional costs.

In addition to medically treating the disease, most breast cancer patients suffer wage loss, as they are too sick from the treatments to work. Patients are often distressed by the diagnosis of a potentially fatal disease and its impacts on their life, health, and commitments.

Seeking Compensation If You've Sustained Health Problems Due to the Use of a Hair Relaxer

The manufacturers of products used by U.S. consumers have a legal responsibility to ensure that their products are reasonably safe when used as intended. If they fail to do so and a consumer is injured, they are liable for compensating the injured party for the expenses and psychological impacts of their injury.

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The process by which this occurs is known as the personal injury claims process, and it involves first filing a claim against the manufacturer's liability insurance policy. If their insurer fails to pay the claim, it can be filed as a personal injury lawsuit for a judge or jury to determine whether the defendant was liable and -- if so -- how much compensation they owe to the claimant.

When a product causes injuries to many, the injured parties' claims are often joined together, at least for the early phases of the trial. This is known as a mass tort. A global or individual settlement resolves mass tort claims.

For lawyers to combine claims as a mass tort, there are a few factors to consider:

  • How many people were impacted by the defect? 
  • Do the claims feature the same facts, such as the same product, company, and injury?
  • Was the product the focus of negative regulatory action? If new information reveals a product as unreasonably dangerous, the manufacturer will recall the product and warn users of the danger. However, those who have already been using the product can already suffer adverse effects when the recall is in place.

The Importance of Having an Attorney

The personal injury claims process is complicated, particularly when the claim involves product liability. These cases commonly result in mass tort. An experienced product liability lawyer plays a crucial role in the claimant's ability to have a successful outcome to their claim, performing services such as:

  • Helping the injured party to determine if they are eligible to file a claim.
  • Obtaining the medical documentation needed to prove the claimant's diagnosis, as well as information to show regular use of the product and expert testimony from scientists or medical professionals linking the diagnosis to the use of the product.
  • Drafting a complaint, deposing witnesses, and using interrogatories to provide the insurer, judge, or jury with information about your illness and the expenses and impacts you incurred.
  • Communicating with the at-fault party's insurer about your claim to negotiate a settlement that fairly compensates you for your injury.
  • Joining an ongoing mass tort case.
  • Representing your case at trial if there is not a mass tort available for you to join.

An experienced product liability lawyer can even start a mass tort case if they have other clients who suffered similar harm from the same product.

How to Afford an Experienced Product Liability Lawyer

Attorney Matthew Dolman

Because product liability claims are so complicated and require a level of experience and skill that many lawyers do not possess, it must be expensive to hire a lawyer to help you with your hair relaxer breast cancer claim, right? 

Not so. The legal team at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA uses a contingent fee billing method that ensures that anyone who needs our assistance with a personal injury claim has access to it, regardless of their financial status. If your lawyer cannot help you obtain compensation for the claim, you do not have to pay for their services.

When you hire an attorney from Dolman Law Group to help you with your claim, your lawyer will ask you to sign a contingency fee agreement. This agreement designates a percentage of your case's gross settlement or verdict proceeds as payment for your attorney. Once you've signed this agreement, your legal team will be able to begin working on your case immediately, without the need for a retainer and without billing you by the hour.

After your claim, your attorney will receive the proceeds of your settlement or award on your behalf. They will place these funds in an escrow account. Your attorney will provide you with a settlement disbursement sheet that lists the gross amount of the settlement or verdict and any deductions taken from this amount, including your attorney's fee, filing expenses, and medical liens on the award. They will also provide the amount of compensation available after deducting the expenses. Once you've reviewed this information and signed the settlement disbursement sheet, you will receive a check for the remaining payment.

Hair Relaxers and Breast Cancer? Dolman Has Answers 

Matthew Dolman, Personal Injury Lawyer
Matthew Dolman, Product Liability Lawyer

Breast cancer is not only an expensive condition to treat, but one that produces profound psychological impacts. If you've been diagnosed with breast cancer as a heavy user of hair relaxer products, you likely have many questions about your future and if you can receive compensation for the expenses and impacts of the disease.

An important first step in seeking the compensation you need is to speak with an experienced product liability lawyer from Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA. We can answer your questions and tell you about our experience with this type of claim and the services we can provide.

While Dolman Law Group is based in Florida, we are a national firm and are able to help clients from other locations across the U.S., or work with local attorneys to ensure that they get the help they need. For your free case evaluation, contact Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, by calling us at (833) 552-7274 or using our online contact form.


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

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 successfully fought for more than 11,000 injured clients and acted as lead counsel in more than 1,000 lawsuits. Always on the cutting edge of personal injury law, Matt is actively engaged in complex legal matters, including Suboxone, AFFF, and Ozempic lawsuits.  Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $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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