Recent studies have demonstrated a link between hair relaxers and various types of cancers. As a result, several hair relaxer users filed lawsuits in 2022 alleging they were diagnosed with hair straightener cancer. As of February 2023, all federal hair relaxer cancer cases were consolidated into a multi-district litigation (MDL) located in the Northern District of Illinois.
By July 2023, there were 236 hair relaxer cases pending in the MDL and it continues to grow each month with new lawsuits filed by people who were harmed because they used common hair straightening products found on store shelves or provided in salons.
What is in These Products That Can Lead to Hair Straightener Cancer?
Numerous harmful substances have been detected in a wide array of chemical hair relaxers, spanning both lye-based and no-lye products. When women opt for DIY hair relaxing treatments or visit salons for these procedures, they unwittingly absorb these carcinogenic compounds through their skin.
As these toxins accumulate within the body, they can trigger disruptions in hormonal equilibrium, leading to the body thinking it has elevated estrogen levels. Elevated estrogen levels have been associated with an increased risk of developing various cancers affecting the female reproductive system. Chemicals that interfere with the endocrine system's ability to maintain hormone balance are categorized as endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs).
Which Famous Brands are Currently Involved in Hair Straightening Cancer Lawsuits?
Dark & Lovely - Soft Sheen Carson, a Subsidiary of L’Oreal
One of the prominent names in the hair relaxer industry, Dark & Lovely, has faced legal scrutiny due to the presence of hazardous EDCs that have been linked to potential cancer risks. In 1998, L’Oreal acquired Carson Products, the original manufacturer of Dark & Lovely, and capitalized on marketing one of the most widely recognized hair care products. However, their failure to warn consumers about cancer risks associated with Dark & Lovely has resulted in litigants naming them in product liability lawsuits, seeking compensation for the damages they've suffered.
ORS Olive Oil - Namaste Laboratories
Women have also filed lawsuits against chemical hair relaxers like ORS Olive Oil due to the increased risk of developing cancer and other reproductive health issues, such as endometriosis. Namaste Laboratories, the manufacturer of ORS Olive Oil hair relaxer, continues to market this product regardless of the mounting evidence that women who use this product long-term are becoming sick.
Olive Oil hair straighteners are also advertised as alternatives to lye-based hair products that are linked to a higher risk of cancer. However, new research has found that Olive Oil hair relaxers still contain dangerous EDCs. In their lawsuits, plaintiffs allege that makers like Namaste Laboratories should have done more thorough testing to ensure the safety of their products and add warning labels to their products.
Just For Me - Strength of Nature, LLC, parent company Godrej Group
Just For Me is another chemical hair relaxer, but this one is explicitly marketed to children. This product has also been accused of containing toxic chemicals that can lead to hormone-sensitive cancer.
Although Just For Me is advertised as gentler than other hair relaxers, it contains the same toxic endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) as other products. These same chemicals can affect even young girls’ natural hormone production and result in hormone-sensitive medical conditions including uterine cancer.
If these companies are found liable, plaintiffs may be able to recover compensation for medical bills, lost wages, loss of enjoyment of life, and other damages related to their cancer diagnosis.
Which Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals are Found in Hair Relaxer Products?
Studies have determined that hair straightening products often contain the following potentially toxic chemicals:
- Bisphenol A
- Sodium hydroxide
- Succinic acid
- Guanidine carbonate
Other Serious Health Conditions That Can Result from Using These Products
The persistent use of hair relaxers may also heighten the risk of other health complications and hormone-sensitive cancers. For example, uterine fibroids, characterized by the growth of muscular tumors within the uterus that can reach sizes of up to eight inches, can lead to distressing symptoms including lower back pain, unusual bleeding, bloating, and constipation.
A 2012 study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology suggested a potential link between hair relaxer use and the development of uterine fibroids through exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs). In cases where uterine fibroids become problematic, some women must undergo a hysterectomy, which involves the removal of the uterus to prevent their recurrence.
Ovarian cancer can also emerge as a consequence of EDC exposure, potentially causing cell mutations in the ovaries situated alongside the uterus. Ovaries play a crucial role in egg production and storage, and an ovarian cancer diagnosis can significantly impact a woman's reproductive abilities.
This type of cancer often presents with subtle or no apparent symptoms, making early detection challenging. In severe instances of ovarian cancer, treatment may necessitate the surgical removal of the affected ovary or ovaries, in addition to chemotherapy.
Most of These Products are Marketed Specifically to Women of Color
The reason more Black women are facing hormone-sensitive cancers can be traced to the deliberate targeting of this demographic from an early age by hair relaxer product makers. These companies have invested substantial resources in marketing and advertising campaigns, aiming to portray their products as safe options specifically tailored to the needs of Black women.
Recent marketing efforts targeted at Generation Z and millennial consumers have further amplified awareness of hair relaxers among younger demographics. However, this raises concerns, as the sustained use of hair relaxers from an early age can elevate the risk of EDC exposure and hormone-sensitive cancers.
One poignant example is the case of Jenny Mitchell, the initial plaintiff to bring a lawsuit against L’Oreal. She had been a loyal user of L’Oreal products for decades before enduring a painful battle with uterine cancer, ultimately requiring a hysterectomy.
Even Worse, Just For Me is Marketed Specifically to Young People
Just For Me is a hair relaxer product deliberately designed for use by young children, potentially introducing them to hazardous toxic chemicals at an early stage of their lives. The continuous application of hair relaxers during childhood can lead to a more prolonged exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) compared to starting the process in adulthood.
Regardless of when hair relaxers are used, there remains a possibility of EDC exposure, which, in turn, may contribute to the development of uterine and other cancers. However, using these products during childhood heightens the probability of encountering hormone-sensitive health challenges in the future, because of the ongoing use of hair relaxers over an extended period of time.
Lawsuits Allege Failure to Warn Consumers About Potential Cancer Risk
The pending lawsuits allege that makers of hair relaxer products failed to warn users about the possible cancerous side effects caused by the EDCs in their products. This failure means they can be held responsible for the injuries suffered by their users. For example, the complaints allege that even though L’Oreal knew about the potential chemical risk in its Dark & Lovely hair relaxers since 2015, the company did not warn users about the potential dangers they faced.
The plaintiffs also allege the makers did not list the dangerous chemicals on their product labels and did not provide any warnings about the potentially dangerous side effects of their hair relaxers. As a result, they breached the duty of care they owed to their consumers.
What Damages Can You Request in a Hair Straightening Cancer Claim?
The reproductive cancers associated with prolonged chemical hair relaxer usage often necessitate a hysterectomy as part of the treatment process, effectively eliminating a woman's ability to conceive. Even in cases where a hysterectomy is not required, cancer can inflict irreversible harm upon a woman's reproductive system, leaving plaintiffs grappling with profound emotional distress and significant financial burdens associated with their treatment.
Women who have faced the distressing reality of developing cancer following the use of chemical hair relaxers find themselves contending with not only substantial physical and emotional losses but also the financial costs incurred during their battle.
While the courts may ultimately consider punitive damages, personal injury attorneys primarily concentrate on securing compensation for their clients in the form of compensatory damages. Compensatory damages encompass both special and general damages. Special damages are meant to reimburse individuals for losses with a quantifiable monetary value, typically medical bills and lost income. On the other hand, general damages compensate for the more intangible, emotionally charged losses, such as the loss of someone's ability to bear children.
How Can Lawsuit Legal News Help With Your Hair Relaxer Lawsuit?
The product liability lawyers affiliated with Lawsuit Legal News are dedicated to helping injured hair relaxer users who are now facing cancer diagnoses. Our experienced legal team can help you pursue compensation for the damages you have incurred as a result of using these hair care products.
We use our vast experience and financial resources to advocate for victims of debilitating injuries and life-altering medical conditions like cancer. We could help you recover compensation for your hair straightener cancer damages through a product liability claim.
Makers of hair relaxers like L’Oreal and SoftSheen-Carson have a duty of care to provide safe products for consumers to use. They breach their legal duty of care if their products are unsafe, and they don’t warn consumers about the cancer risk associated with their products.
When you schedule a free consultation with the products liability lawyers at Lawsuit Legal News, they can help:
- Calculate the full extent of your damages,
- Collect necessary evidence to support your claim,
- Explain your legal rights,
- Represent you during settlement negotiations with the manufacturer or its insurance company, and
- Develop a solid trial strategy if settlement is not possible.
Contact Lawsuit Legal News for More Information About Hair Straightener Cancer
If you have been diagnosed with cancer after using hair relaxer products, there’s no time to waste. Reach out today for a free consultation and case evaluation to better understand your legal rights and the compensation you may potentially receive.