Hair straightening products increase the risk of uterine cancer
Women who frequently use hair straightening products see their risk of developing uterine cancer more than double.
Straightening products used to straighten hair, especially by black women, pose an increased risk of uterine cancer, indicates a large study by the American Institutes of Health.
Women who use these products frequently – more than four times a year – see their risk of developing uterine cancer more than double, according to this work.
Des independent experts have praised the usefulness of this research on a subject that has so far been little studied, and published Monday in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute . They invoked a precautionary principle to call for more regulations, although further studies are needed to further these findings.
Cervical cancer (not to be confused with cervical cancer) is a relatively rare form of cancer. It accounts for about 3% of new cancer cases in the United States, with some 66,000 cases and 12,500 deaths in 2022.
But incidence rates for this cancer are on the rise in the United States, especially among black women.
The study is based on data from nearly 33,500 American women, recruited between 2003 and 2009 and followed for almost eleven years. A total of 378 women developed uterine cancer.
For women who had never used hair straightening products, the risk of developing cancer of the uterus by their 70s is 1.64%, compared to 4.05% for frequent users, detailed in a press release Alexandra White, lead author of the study. p>
Because black women use hair straightening or hair straightening products more frequently and tend to start younger […], these results could be particularly interesting for them, underlined Che-Jung Chang, co-author of this work. /p>
In this study, approximately 60% of women who reported using hair straightening products within the year self-identified as black.
The researchers did not collect information on the specific products and brands used.
But they note that several frequently used chemicals could contribute to the increased risk of cancer: parabens, bisphenol A, metals or even formaldehyde.
Formaldehyde, commonly known as formalin, can be used in particular for so-called Brazilian smoothing – at limited rates in certain countries, including France. It is classified as a carcinogen.
Another potential mode of action could be the disruption of hormonal mechanisms.
We know that these hair straighteners contain many chemicals, including endocrine disruptors, and we can expect them to have an impact on hormone-dependent cancers, Alexandra White told AFP. The concern is that these items contain chemicals that could act like estrogen in the body, she added.
Previous work carried out by the researcher had already raised a link between hair relaxers and an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
During the study, no similar association between cancer of the uterus and other techniques such as dyeing, bleaching or perms have not been observed.
Straightening products could promote the absorption of the chemicals via lesions or burns caused on the scalp, or by the joint use of straightening irons whose heat breaks down the chemicals.
In a comment posted concurrently, experts said it was time for action.
Changes to personal care products are likely required on many levels, say they write, in particular to tackle racialized beauty standards, and the lack of transparency on the products s chemicals used.