Hair straightening products increase the risk of uterine cancer

Hair straightening products increase the risk of uterine cancer

satisfaction and enjoyment of home hair care routine ~ taken with canon eos rp
Catherine McQueen/Getty Images satisfaction and enjoyment of home hair care routine ~ taken with canon eos rp

Catherine McQueen/Getty Images

Straightening products increase the risk of developing uterine cancer, according to an American study.

HEALTH – To straighten hair, a practice that is not without risk. According to a large study from the American Institutes of Health published Monday, October 17 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, hair straightening products pose an increased risk of uterine cancer, not to be confused with cervical cancer uterine. Products used primarily by black women. The risk of developing uterine cancer more than doubles for those who use it frequently, more than four times a year.

The study is based on data from nearly 33,500 US women, recruited between 2003 and 2009 and followed for nearly eleven years. A total of 378 women developed uterine cancer. For those who have never used a hair straightening product, the risk of developing uterine cancer at age 70 is 1.64%, compared to 4.05% for frequent users, it detailed in a press release. Alexandra White, lead author of the study.

“Because black women use straightening or straightening products more frequently and tend to start younger (…), these results could be especially interesting for them”, stressed Che-Jung Chang, co-author of this work. Among those surveyed, approximately 60% of women who said they had used hair straightening products during the year declared themselves black.

Uterine cancer is a relatively rare form of cancer. It accounts for about 3% of new cancer cases in the United States, with about 66,000 cases and 12,500 deaths in 2022. But incidence rates for this cancer are rising in the United States, especially among black women. In metropolitan France, according to Santé Publique France, the estimated number of new cases of uterine cancer was 8,224 and the estimated number of deaths was 2,415, for the year 2018.

Presence of endocrine disruptors

The researchers did not collect information on the specific products and brands used. But they point out that several chemicals could contribute to increased cancer risk: parabens, bisphenol A, metals, or even formaldehyde.

Formaldehyde, commonly known as formaldehyde, can be used in particular for the so-called Brazilian straightening, at limited rates in certain countries, including France. It is classified as carcinogenic. Another possible mode of action could be the alteration of hormonal mechanisms.

“We know that these softening products contain many chemicals, including endocrine disruptors, and can be expected to have an impact on hormone-dependent cancers.”Alexandra White explained to AFP. “The concern is that these items contain chemicals that could act like estrogen in the body.”she added.

Hair straightening products can promote the absorption of chemicals through injuries or burns to the scalp, or from the concurrent use of straightening irons whose heat breaks down the chemicals.

Previous work by the researcher had already suggested a link between relaxant products and an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer. During the study, no similar association was observed between uterine cancer and other techniques such as dyes, discolorations or permanents.

In a comment published simultaneously, the experts judged that it was “time to intervene”. Changes “with regard to personal care products, they are likely to be required on many levels”wrote, in particular for “challenging racialized beauty standards”and in “lack of transparency on chemicals” use.

See also in The Huff Post:

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