Study Links Chemical Hair Relaxers and Straighteners to Uterine Cancer.

Has Your Health Been Affected?

Have You Been Diagnosed with Uterine, Ovarian or Endometrial Cancer?

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Hair Straightener Lawsuit

The Costly Price of Chemical Hair Relaxing and Straightening.

A Hair Relaxer Lawsuit Provides Women an Opportunity to Seek Compensation.

A strong association between chemical hair straighteners or relaxers and the development of uterine cancer has been confirmed by a 10-year study of 33,497 U.S. women ages 35-74 with diverse racial and ethnic profiles. The national study, published October 2022 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, was conducted by the NIH (National Institutes of Health).

During the NIH study, 378 new cases of uterine cancer were identified. Not surprisingly, of the women diagnosed, 60 percent self-identified as African-American women and frequent product users (4x per year or more) upon first enrolling. Latina women are also more affected.

In response, A Case for Women stepped up to help seek compensation for women diagnosed with uterine, ovarian and endometrial cancer as a result of routine use of chemically straightening their hair. The civil legal action also alleges manufacturers failed to adequately warn consumers of the increased risk  of developing uterine cancer and other serious health risks while continuing to design, produce and market products as virtually harmless for decades.

Women who had reported using hair relaxer products would prove more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with uterine cancer as those who did not.

“The link between hair dyes and straighteners and diseases like breast cancer has been documented in the past… We were interested in expanding this research to consider uterine cancer,” Alexandra White of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and lead author of the study told NPR. “Uterine cancer is similar to breast and ovarian cancer in that we know that they are all hormonally mediated outcomes.”

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Psychology of Straight.

Recent psychological studies show men perceive women with straight hair as being more formal and businesslike (powerful) especially if hair is cut above the shoulders.

“The media portrays the definition of beauty as being thin with really sleek hair, which in turn made women with textured hair feel like they need to relax their hair so they can be a part of that definition of beauty… that’s what was defined as put together, refined, polish, sexy, and sophisticated,” says Nai’vasha Johnson, celebrity hair stylist for Alicia Keys.

Chicago stylist Trish Crowder has worked with straighteners for almost 30 years. The new findings make her nervous and she says some of her clients have issues similar to Jenny Mitchell’s – the woman who filed the first case against L’Oreal claiming that her cancer and hysterectomy at age 28 were linked to the product’s use.

“One could make a decision to reduce this chemical exposure, but we also want to acknowledge that there is a lot of pressure on women, especially Black women, to have straight hair. It’s not an easy decision to not do this.”

Chemical hair straighteners are a permanent way to keep naturally tight-textured hair shiny, loose and resilient, making use of sodium hydroxide and sometimes ammonium thioglycolate (wrongly associated with just curling). Both chemicals, actually, are effective at unshaping the hair shaft altogether so that hair is unwound and supple, ready for reshaping according to preference: caterpillar whorls, silky straightness, beach waves.

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The Scalp is a Sieve.

Hair relaxers are basically creamy pastes directly applied to the hair that claim to avoid contact with the scalp. When the user observes the desired level of texture release, the chemical is rinsed and hair is thoroughly washed with neutralizing shampoo; the result remains until new growth accumulates (roughly three months).

The problem, however, is that contact with the scalp is unavoidable. Sodium hydroxide and ammonium thioglycolate are harsh and can burn or chafe the scalp, making its skin barrier even more permeable. Chemicals are easily absorbed and can enter the bloodstream.

So Many Chemical Hair Relaxer Products.

There are dozens of chemical hair relaxer products available on the market. Here is a sample of some of these products.

  • African Pride
  • Avlon Affirm
  • Bantu
  • Beautiful Expressions
  • Bone Straight
  • Care Free Curls
  • Creme of Nature
  • Dark and Lovely
  • Dudley
  • Hawaiian Silky
  • Just for Me
  • LIV
  • Mizani
  • Motions
  • Optimum
  • ORS Olive Oil
  • Parnuva
  • PinK
  • Precise
  • Precisely Right by Ogle
  • Revlon
  • Silk Elements
  • Soft & Beautiful
  • TCB
  • Ultra Sheen

The Long, Hot History of Chemical Relaxers and Other Hair Taming Products.

Since the 1800s, the American beauty market has been intent on reshaping Black hair texture. The chemical hair straightening industry, valued at a vast $5.51 billion in 2021, is expected to grow 6% between 2022–2027 despite several years of weakening sales due to the trend towards natural hair.

So, where did this all begin?

The first chemical hair relaxers were invented in the early 1900s by Black men for Black men – then formulated for women. Garret Augustus Morgan, a Kentuckian born to former slaves, was a young inventor who accidentally discovered in 1909 that the alkaline-based solutions he used to repair sewing machines doubled as a relaxer for his “wool-like” hair texture. First, he experimented on an Airedale Terrier, a dog breed characterized by tightly coiled hair. It worked, and Morgan was next to try it!

In 1917, Madam C.J. Walker became the first self-made female millionaire in the U.S. with her line of non-chemical pomades and a pressing process called the “Walker System.” Netflix streamed its 2020 film exclusively about Walker’s entrepreneurial and philanthropic influence in “Self-Made,” starring Octavia Spencer.

In 1954, George E. Johnson created a permanent chemical hair relaxer for Black men — the “Ultra Wave Hair Culture” —later revised for women. His company was called Johnson Products.

In 1962, Childrey & Doty introduced a hair-relaxer cream for Summit Labs, speeding up the popularity of permanent chemical hair relaxer products.

In 1971 lye relaxers were officially produced commercially. Proline, the manufacturer of Dark and Lovely, developed the first commercial lye relaxer, which straightened hair by weakening the internal protein and loosening the natural curls.

In the mid-1970s, Revlon created a texturizing relaxer, prompting Johnson Products to develop a relaxer cream that incorporated a conditioning and softening quaternary ammonium polymer.

As time progressed, more products with harsher chemicals became popular, and sales soared for both at-home and in-salon use.

“I knew slathering my roots with the whitish paste of relaxer cream probably wasn’t a good idea,” said Traci Bethea, an assistant professor at Georgetown University in D.C. “It wasn’t until recently that I realized that relaxers could be doing far more than just roasting my scalp and that this grooming process could actually be deadly.”

A Case for Women Is Doing Something About It.

We are a group of women helping women. If you were/are diagnosed with uterine, ovarian, or endometrial cancer and/or underwent a hysterectomy as treatment for cancer and used chemical hair relaxers or straighteners, please contact us right away. You may be eligible to join the hair relaxer cancer lawsuit.

We want to help you file a lawsuit that will not only seek compensation for your injuries but will also help change the broken system that allowed toxic beauty products to be sold in the first place.

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DON’T WAIT – WOMEN NEED WOMEN.

Taking on giant cosmetic manufacturers that dominate the lucrative haircare industry ($12.9 billion in 2022 revenue) is no easy task, so we need your help. The more users diagnosed with cancer who come forward to participate in the hair straightener lawsuit, the greater are our chances of success at creating systemic change that will cut cancer out of the beauty industry for all of us.