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Black Women Have Increased Risk of Suffering Uterine Cancer from Hair Relaxers

The endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) in hair relaxers can cause a woman to suffer hormone imbalance, leading to health issues like uterine cancer, uterine fibroids, and ovarian cancer. A study from the National Institute of Health (NIH) found that women who use hair relaxers at least four times a year have twice the risk of suffering uterine cancer than women who do not.

The study’s researchers suggested that black women could be at an even higher risk of uterine cancer than women of other races because they use hair relaxers more often from a younger age to conform to Eurocentric beauty standards. Many hair relaxers are marketed specifically to black women and can cause uterine cancer. Recently, over one hundred women filed hair relaxer lawsuits to hold manufacturers accountable for uterine cancer damages caused by their products.

Can Hair Relaxer Use Cause Uterine Cancer?

Recent studies have connected hair relaxers, a valuable product women use to straighten hair, to uterine cancer. The National Institute of Health (NIH) conducted a study using data from the Sister Study, which collected yearly information from women for eleven years about their hair product use and health conditions. Their analysis of this data found that women that used hair relaxer products at least four times a year increased their risk of suffering uterine cancer from 1.64% to 4.05%.

While it’s still unproven what the causal relationship between hair relaxers and uterine cancer is, many researchers suggest it has to do with the endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) in hair relaxers. These toxic chemicals help break down the hair’s protein structures but can also cause hormone imbalance. This can expose a woman to uterine cancer risk, leading to symptoms like abnormal vaginal bleeding, pelvic pain, and unusual vaginal discharge. 

Why are Black Women at a Greater Risk of Uterine Cancer from Hair Relaxers?

Part of the NIH study identified black women as the most likely to suffer uterine cancer from hair relaxer use. According to the NIH study, 60% of the women who reported using hair relaxers were black women. This is the highest demographic of hair relaxer users represented in the study. This statistic is concerning because black women only represented 7.4% of women in the initial study.

There was no evidence to suggest there is something about hair relaxers that specifically affects black women and causes uterine cancer. However, black women statistically use hair relaxers more often than other races of women, leading to exposure to uterine cancer risk.

What Factors Contribute to Black Women Using Hair Relaxers More?

The major contributing factor that leads to black women using hair relaxers is adhering to Eurocentric beauty standards. There is pressure on black women to adhere to a straight hair aesthetic, as it can help in social and professional settings. Racial biases exist that black women must contend with, and straightening their hair from a young age is one way of doing that.

Jenny Mitchell, the first woman to file a hair relaxer lawsuit, first started using hair relaxers at eight years old to adhere to social norms of having “sleek, nice, laid hair.” This pressure led to her using hair relaxers throughout her life, causing a uterine cancer diagnosis that dramatically altered her life.

Conforming to societal aesthetic norms to avoid racial bias has led to black women changing their hairstyle through hair products, from perms in the 1940s to using hair relaxers today. However, consistent use of hair relaxers from a young age can expose a woman to increased uterine cancer risk.

Holding Hair Relaxer Manufacturers Accountable for Failure to Warn

Hair relaxer uterine cancer victims can hold liable parties accountable for their negligence that led to their health issues through a product liability lawsuit. These liable parties include the manufacturers who create the product with dangerous chemicals and retailers who sell the product despite its health risks. Hair relaxer manufacturers failed to warn through a warning label about the uterine cancer risk presented by their product, instead advertising their product as safe.

In some cases, hair relaxer products are marketed specifically to black women without notifying them about the health complications presented by the product. Many women have filed hair relaxer lawsuits to hold at-fault parties accountable for failing to warn. Currently, there are over one hundred hair relaxer lawsuits consolidated into multi-district litigation (MDL) in the Northern District of Illinois before Judge Mary Rowland.

What Damages Can You Pursue in a Hair Relaxer Lawsuit?

Women that suffer uterine cancer from hair relaxer use can experience damages, which are losses associated with their cancer diagnosis. They will need to pay for the medical cost of their treatment which could be made difficult because they have to take time off of work to recover from their medical condition. These qualify as economic damages affecting a person’s financial position.

Hair relaxer uterine cancer victims can also suffer non-economic damages that affect their quality of life. Depression and anxiety can set in because of the health problems caused by uterine cancer. A woman with uterine cancer may not be able to enjoy life in the same way, and they can pursue compensation for the effects of their mental health.

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

Should You Hire a Product Liability Lawyer to Help With Your Hair Relaxer Lawsuit?

Hair relaxer lawsuits consolidated into an MDL, changing the process for pursuing compensation for hair relaxer damages. It’s a different process than filing a lawsuit and negotiating a settlement with the at-fault party’s insurance company.

Hiring a product liability lawyer can help with this process, as they will have experience with MDLs and will know how to get you involved. They can help you file a short-form complaint to join the MDL and can pool resources with other lawyers to prove all plaintiffs deserve compensation for damages. A product liability lawyer can also determine the value of your claim, explain the rules involved with MDLs, keep you up-to-date on the MDL’s progress, and ensure you recover compensation to pay for your specific damages.

Contact The Russo Firm for Help With Your Hair Relaxer Lawsuit

The product liability lawyers at The Russo Firm have helped dangerous product victims recover compensation for damages caused by a manufacturer or retailer’s negligence. We have experience helping victims of dangerous products, such as Tylenol, AFFF firefighting foam, and Monsanto Roundup, recover compensation for damages associated with medical conditions caused by the products.

Our product liability lawyers understand how difficult it can be to pursue compensatory damages from powerful product manufacturers and retailers. We can assist you in filing your hair relaxer lawsuit, joining the MDL, and ensuring your specific damages are covered by a settlement. Contact us for a free consultation regarding your hair relaxer lawsuit today at (561) 270-0913 or on our online contact page.  

Article written or reviewed by:

Attorney Anthony Russo

Attorney Anthony Russo

Managing Partner and Lawyer at The Russo Firm

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