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The Disturbing Truth About Hair Relaxers – By The New York Times

Excerpt from this important article:

“A robust body of scientific evidence has now shown that straighteners and other hair products marketed to Black girls and women have been linked to endocrine-disrupting substances associated with the early onset of menstruation and many of the reproductive- health issues that follow, from uterine fibroids, preterm birth and infertility to breast, ovarian and uterine cancer. Many of these hormone- health-related problems are more common in Black women than in other women, including an aggressive form of breast cancer that contributes to a death rate from the disease that is 28 percent higher than the rate for white women.”

“The evidence took a drastic turn in October 2022 when the Sister Study, which was led by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and followed a cohort of nearly 34,000 women, found that those who frequently used chemical hair-straightening products, a majority of whom were Black women, were two and a half times as likely to develop uterine cancer as those who did not use the products. Uterine cancer is the most common cancer of the female reproductive system, and the most aggressive subtypes have been on the rise since 2000 — especially among Black women.”

Many health problems which affect a disproportionate percentage of black women have been linked to the use of hair relaxers and other hair care products that are commonly used by Black women. Research has suggested associations between certain hair care products and the following conditions:

1. **Breast Cancer**: Studies have indicated a potential link between the use of hair relaxers and increased risk of breast cancer. Some hair relaxers contain chemicals like parabens, phthalates, and formaldehyde, which are known to disrupt endocrine function and may contribute to cancer development.

2. **Uterine Fibroids**: There is evidence suggesting a correlation between the use of hair relaxers and an increased risk of developing uterine fibroids. The chemicals in these products may contribute to hormonal disruptions that influence fibroid growth.

3. **Endometrial Cancer**: Recent studies have found that frequent use of certain hair straightening products may increase the risk of developing endometrial cancer. The exact mechanisms are not fully understood, but exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals is a suspected factor.

4. **Hormonal Disruptions**: Chemicals in hair relaxers, such as phthalates and parabens, are known to be endocrine disruptors. These can interfere with normal hormonal function, potentially leading to a variety of health issues, including reproductive health problems and metabolic disorders.

5. **Asthma and Respiratory Issues**: Formaldehyde, found in some hair straightening products, is a known respiratory irritant and can trigger asthma symptoms and other respiratory issues. Hairdressers and individuals frequently using these products may experience higher rates of these conditions.

While these associations have been observed, research is still ongoing, and not all studies have found the same levels of risk. The variability in findings underscores the need for further investigation to fully understand the health impacts of these products.

Yet, we know enough as to conclude that reducing exposure to harmful chemicals by opting for safer hair care alternatives and advocating for stricter regulation of cosmetic products can help mitigate these risks.

Gatekeepers News is not liable for opinions expressed in this article, they’re strictly the writer’s

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