Hair straightening chemicals associated with uterine cancer risk-Black women may be more affected

black woman looking in to the cameraWomen who use chemical hair straighteners, dyes, bleach, and perm chemicals are at a higher risk for uterine cancer according to a new report from the National Institutes of Health.

In the study, 33,497 U.S. women from ages 35 – 74 were in the study. In 11 years, 378 uterine cancer cases were diagnosed.

The study found that women who frequently used hair straightening products were more than four times as likely to develop uterine cancer compared to those who did not.

Uterine cancer accounts for about 3% of all new cancer cases but is the most common of the female reproductive system, with 65,950 new cases in 2022. Studies show rising rates in the U.S. especially in Black women. Prior studies found that chemical straighteners can increase the risk of hormone-related cancer in women.

About 60 percent of the participants who reported using chemical straighteners self-identified as Black. However the study did not find correlation to the use of straighteners and race; adverse effects may be higher in Black women because of more prevalent use amongst Black women.

No information was collected on brands or ingredients in the hair products the women used, but the chemicals in hair products, like parabens, bisphenol A, metals, and formaldehyde, could be contributing to the risk of uterine cancer.