Oct 18, 2022 - Science

Chemical hair-straightening products linked with uterine cancer risk

A woman gets her hair straightened at a salon.

Photo: Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Women who used chemical hair straightening products were at higher risk for uterine cancer than women who did not report using these products, according to new research from the National Institutes of Health.

Why it matters: Incidence rates of uterine cancer, which is the second deadliest gynecologic cancer, have been rising in the United States, particularly among Black women, according to a study by the National Cancer Institute.

Driving the news: Researchers found that women who reported frequent use of hair straightening products were more than twice as likely to go on to develop uterine cancer compared to those who did not use the products.

  • For the purpose of the study, which involved 33,497 American women, frequent use was defined as more than four times in the previous year.

What they're saying: Researchers noted that "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 ... than other races and ethnicities."

  • "Because Black women use hair straightening or relaxer products more frequently and tend to initiate use at earlier ages than other races and ethnicities, these findings may be even more relevant for them," said Che-Jung Chang, an author on the new study and a research fellow in the NIEHS Epidemiology Branch in a statement.

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