Harmful Chemicals Found in Chemical Hair Relaxers

Harmful Chemicals Found in Chemical Hair Relaxers

The consistent use of hair relaxers has been connected to a risk for women to suffer adverse health conditions, such as uterine cancer, uterine fibroids, and ovarian cancer. Chemical hair relaxers contain dangerous endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), which can seep into the body through scalp absorption. These chemicals can interfere with the body’s hormone balance and cause the growth of cancer cells.

Across the United States, many victims of adverse health conditions caused by the use of chemical hair relaxers have filed product liability lawsuits. These chemical hair relaxer lawsuits seek to hold manufacturers of hair relaxers, such as L’Oreal, accountable for failing to warn of the dangers of their products. People with cancer from hair relaxers can file these lawsuits to pursue compensation for damages, such as medical bills, lost wages, and loss of enjoyment of life.

National Institute of Health Study Found Connection Between Hair Relaxer Use and Uterine Cancer Risk

The revelation that chemical hair relaxers could cause hormone-sensitive cancers and other health problems comes from a study conducted by the National Institute of Health. The NIH study used data collected by the Sister Study to discern a connection between haircare product use and medical conditions. Their researchers found that of the 33,497 women aged 35-74 whose data they observed, 378 reported a uterine cancer diagnosis at some point over the eleven years the Sister Study collected their data.

The NIH researchers discovered that women who used chemical hair relaxers at least four times a year had a 4.05% chance of uterine cancer diagnosis. In contrast, women who did not use hair relaxers had a 1.64% chance of uterine cancer diagnosis. The consistent use of chemical hair relaxers doubled the risk of a uterine cancer diagnosis. The NIH study also discovered that the prevalence of hair relaxer use by black women increases their chances of a uterine cancer diagnosis.

Cancer Caused by Consistent Hair Relaxer Use

Further studies, such as the one done by the Journal of National Cancer Institute, found that uterine cancer was not the only type of health risk posed by the consistent use of chemical hair relaxers. Chemical hair relaxers contain carcinogens that could result in hormone imbalance and cause hormone-sensitive cancer. Chemical hair relaxers can artificially increase a woman’s estrogen levels, resulting in reproductive health issues.

The following are some of the hormone-sensitive cancers and other reproductive health issues caused by consistent chemical hair relaxer use:

What are Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals?

The dangerous chemicals in hair relaxers that can cause hormone-sensitive cancers are called endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs). These harmful substances can be found in the environment, food, and personal care products and can interfere with the body’s endocrine system. They can trick the body into thinking these harmful substances are hormones, which can cause hormone imbalance. They can also block the functionality of hormones in the body and can change how sensitive the body is to hormones.

When chemical hair relaxers are applied, EDCs can seep into the body through scalp absorption. Once in the body, they can interfere with the body’s hormone balance and cause hormone-sensitive cancers, such as the ones listed above.

What EDCs Have Been Found in Chemical Hair Relaxers?

The consistent use of hair relaxers can expose women to an increased risk of EDCs entering the body through scalp absorption. Once these dangerous chemicals enter the body, they can affect healthy cells and cause a mutation that can lead to cancer.

The following are some of the EDCs found in chemical hair relaxers:

  • Formaldehyde
  • Parabens 
  • Bisphenol A
  • Phthalates
  • Metals
  • Cyclosiloxanes
  • Diethanolamine
  • Triclosan
  • Sodium hydroxide

Formaldehyde is a colorless chemical that has been linked to cancer risk through animal and human testing. The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) is currently investigating the cancerous effects of ingesting or absorbing parabens, a preservative used in chemical hair relaxers. When a human’s body has increased levels of certain metals, it can cause cells to mutate. It can lead to healthy cells dying because the mutated cells take their resources.

Hair Relaxer Products That Can Cause Cancer

Over the past many months, women have filed chemical hair relaxer lawsuits to hold hair relaxer manufacturers liable for damages caused by hormone-sensitive cancers. Some of the defendants in hair relaxer lawsuits are manufacturers such as L’Oreal, SoftSheen Carson, Strength of Nature, Dabur, Namaste Laboratories, and Cantu Beauty. Products manufactured by these companies have caused hormone-sensitive cancers through EDC exposure.

The following are some of the hair relaxing product brands found to cause hormone-sensitive cancers:

  • Dark & Lovely
  • Optimum
  • Just for Me
  • Motions
  • ORS hair relaxers
  • Cantu Shea Butter

Damages in a Chemical Hair Relaxer Lawsuit

Users of chemical hair relaxers who suffer from cancer and other adverse health conditions can seek compensatory damages to pay for economic and non-economic losses. Someone who received a cancer diagnosis because of chemical hair relaxers can experience financial difficulties, as they have to pay for medical treatment and could lose wages from missed time at work. They may also suffer psychological effects, such as depression and anxiety, that can reduce their quality of life. A product liability lawyer can help you calculate the true cost of your current and future hair relaxer damages.

The following are some of the damages you could pursue compensation for in a chemical hair relaxer lawsuit:

  • Medical expenses
    • Medication
    • Surgery
    • Hospital stays
    • Lab tests
    • Imaging
    • Chemo
    • Radiation therapy
    • Hormone therapy
  • Job-related losses
    • Lost wages
    • Reduced earning capacity
    • Missed promotions
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of quality of life
  • Wrongful death
  • Loss of consortium
  • Loss of services and support
  • Loss of parental guidance
  • Funeral and burial costs

Filing a Hair Relaxer Lawsuit to Pursue Compensation for Damages

If you were diagnosed with cancer because of hair relaxer use, you could file a chemical hair relaxer lawsuit to pursue compensation for damages. Currently, many plaintiffs await a decision from the Judicial Panel for Multi-District Litigation (JPML) regarding the consolidation of chemical hair relaxer lawsuits.

This consolidation could help hair relaxer lawsuit plaintiffs with the process of their lawsuits, as they could pool resources with the lawyers of other plaintiffs. It will also allow every plaintiff to retain their right to compensation for their damages, meaning they can recover full compensation for their specific damages.

Hair relaxer cancer victims should speak to a product liability lawyer now to learn about their options for filing a hair relaxer lawsuit. An experienced product liability attorney can help you file your lawsuit before the statute of limitations deadline, explain how multi-district litigation works, assist with filing the necessary paperwork, and help you negotiate a fair settlement to recover fair compensation for the full cost of your damages.


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 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 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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