Multiple Lawsuits Claim Hair Relaxers Cause Cancer and Other Health Issues

Many women in the USA, particularly African American women, use hair relaxer products as part of their regular styling routines. However, recent scientific studies reveal that the chemicals found in these hair relaxers may disrupt hormones, leading to significant health issues such as uterine and ovarian cancer.

As a response to these findings, women across the USA have initiated legal action against cosmetics companies responsible for manufacturing hair relaxers. Let’s delve into the health implications of these hair styling chemicals and explore the options available for victims to pursue compensation for injuries.

What Are Hair Relaxers? 

Hair relaxers are chemical products designed to straighten or loosen the natural curls or waves in hair. They are primarily used by individuals with curly hair who desire a straighter, more manageable hairstyle. 

The active ingredients in hair relaxers typically include chemicals that break down the keratin bonds in the hair, specifically the disulfide bonds, which contribute to the hair’s natural structure.

The potential health risks associated with hair relaxers can be significant, particularly when not used correctly or if an individual exhibits sensitivity to the ingredients. In addition to hair damage and allergic reactions, women who use these products on a regular basis can face respiratory issues and eye irritation. 

Improper use can lead to scalp lesions and burns, creating pathways for harmful chemicals to enter the body more easily. Hair relaxers often contain hazardous endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) that can be absorbed through the scalp, impacting the body’s hormone balance and potentially fostering the growth of cancer cells.

Can Chemicals in Hair Relaxers Cause Cancer? 

Numerous studies have established a connection between the frequent use of hair straighteners and relaxers and an elevated risk of cancer. Many chemicals present in these products are potential carcinogens capable of impacting hormone levels. These include parabens, Bisphenol A, heavy metals, and formaldehyde, all of which can permeate the body, contributing to an increased cancer risk.

The National Institutes of Health’s latest study revealed that women who frequently used hair straightening products were over twice as likely to develop cancer of the uterus compared to non-users. 

The Black Women’s Health Study by the University of Boston reported that prolonged use of chemical hair relaxers among postmenopausal Black women was linked to an increased risk of uterine cancer.

Additionally, a study by the National Cancer Institute further affirmed the correlation between hair straightening product use and a heightened risk of uterine cancer.

Following the National Cancer Institute study, lawsuits have been filed against the manufacturers of specific hair straighteners and relaxers. These legal actions allege that the manufacturers should have been aware of the associated health risks and adequately warned consumers.

Hair Relaxer Manufacturers Under Legal Scrutiny

The hair relaxer lawsuit involves multiple defendants, with cosmetic companies being accused of neglecting to warn users about the potential cancer risks associated with their products. 

According to TorHoerman Law, the defendants in these cancer lawsuits include renowned cosmetic companies such as L’Oreal, Just For Me, Dark & Lovely, ORS Hair Care (Namaste Laboratories, LLC), Softsheen-Carson (Optimum Relaxer), African Pride (Godrej), Revlon, and others.

Lawsuits have been filed in Illinois on behalf of numerous women who claim to have developed uterine fibroids, cancer of the uterus and breast, and various health conditions due to the use of hair-relaxing products. 

A consolidation of almost 60 lawsuits, claiming that hair relaxer products from companies like L’Oréal cause cancer and other health problems, is set to take place as a multidistrict litigation (MDL). These lawsuits argue that the companies knew about the presence of dangerous chemicals in their products but continued to promote and sell them.

With the ongoing surge in new hair relaxer cancer lawsuits, the Food and Drug Administration is now planning to introduce a new regulation to ban formaldehyde as an ingredient in all hair relaxer products. Formaldehyde has been a primary component of hair relaxer products for a long time; however, it is also known for its toxicity and its association with different types of cancers. 

As of November 2023, nearly 8,000 cases are awaiting resolution in the hair relaxer class action lawsuit. The viability of these legal claims rests on the ability to prove that the products were indeed harmful and that the companies were aware, or should have been aware, of the associated dangers but failed to provide adequate warnings to customers. 

Women who have used hair relaxer products over extended periods and have been diagnosed with uterine cancer have the option to file liability lawsuits against manufacturers, aiming to seek compensation for their damages.