Could the products you put in your hair be increasing your risk of developing cancer? Ongoing research has previously suggested that hair straightening chemicals are associated with an increased risk of certain hormone-related cancers, including breast and ovarian cancers, and now, a new study links the use of hair straightening products with an increased risk of uterine cancer.
For years, uterine cancer has been considered a relatively rare disease in the U.S., however, in recent years those rates have increased. Women who use hair-straightening chemicals are at an increased risk of uterine cancer compared with those who do not use the chemicals, according to new findings of the Sister Study, run by the National Institutes of Health. Naturally, Black women are at a higher risk because they are more likely to use chemical hair-straightening products than women of other races.
What the study shows
The study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, estimates that among women who did not use hair-straightening chemical products in the past 12 months, 1.6% developed uterine cancer by age 70, but about 4% of the women who frequently use such hair-straightening products developed uterine cancer by age 70.
“In this study, women with frequent use in the past year had an over two-fold higher risk of uterine cancer,” Chandra Jackson, an author of the study and researcher at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences says. Frequent use means the women used the products more than four times in the previous year.
So which products put you at risk?
The researchers found a strong association between hair straightening products and uterine cancer cases, however, the use of other hair products – such as dyes and perms or body waves – was not associated with uterine cancer.
Black women and cancer
According to study data, the association between hair straightening products and uterine cancer cases was most pronounced for Black women, who made up only 7.4% of the study participants, but 59.9% of those who reported ever using straighteners.
There are many reasons Black women are more likely to use straightening products including Eurocentric standards of beauty, social pressures placed on them in the workplace, settings related to microaggressions and the threat of discrimination.
Whatsmore, sometimes Black women just desire the versatility of being able to change their hairstyles and use their hair as