Hair straightening chemicals associated with higher uterine cancer risk
NIH study finds Black women may be more affected due to higher use.
Women who used chemical hair straightening products were at higher risk for uterine cancer compared to women who did not report using these products (NIH).
There no associations with uterine cancer for other hair products that the women reported using, including hair dyes, bleach, highlights, or perms.
Women who reported frequent use of hair straightening products, defined as more than four times in the previous year, were more than twice as likely to go on to develop uterine cancer compared to those who did not use the products.
It is estimated that 1.64% of women who never used hair straighteners would go on to develop uterine cancer by the age of 70; but for frequent users, that risk goes up to 4.05%.
Uterine cancer accounts for about 3% of all new cancer cases but is the most common cancer of the female reproductive system, with 65,950 estimated new cases in 2022.
Studies show that incidence rates of uterine cancer have been rising in the United States, particularly among Black women.
The study did not find that the relationship between straightener use and uterine cancer incidence was different by race, the adverse health effects may be greater for Black women due to higher prevalence of use.
Prior studies showing straighteners can increase the risk of hormone-related cancers in women.
Permanent hair dye and straighteners may increase breast and ovarian cancer risk.
Using hair straighteners excessively or incorrectly can lead to several potential dangers and risks:
1. Heat damage: Excessive heat from straighteners can damage the hair, causing dryness, breakage, and split ends.
2. Burns: If not handled carefully, hair straighteners can cause burns to the scalp, ears, neck, or hands.
3. Overprocessing: Too frequent use of straighteners can lead to overprocessing of the hair, resulting in weakened, brittle hair.
4. Allergic reactions: Some individuals may experience allergic reactions to materials in the straightener plates or the coatings on the plates.