Study finds link between hair-straightening chemical products to uterine cancer

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Posted at 2:37 PM, Oct 18, 2022

A recent study has found a link between hair straightening products and an increased risk of developing uterine cancer.

In a news release Monday, researchers at the National Institutes of Health said that the data collected was part of a Sister Study, which examines risk factors for hormone-related cancers.

According to the news release, over the course of nearly 11 years, close to 34,000 women between the ages of 35 to 74 participated in the study, during which 378 uterine cancer cases were diagnosed.

Data showed that 1.64% of women who never used hair straighteners would develop uterine cancer by the age of 70, but 4% of women who frequently used those products would develop uterine cancer by the age of 70.

“This doubling rate is concerning. However, it is important to put this information into context - uterine cancer is a relatively rare type of cancer," said Alexandra White, Ph.D., head of the NIEHS Environment and Cancer Epidemiology group and lead author on the new study.

According to the study, Black women might be more at risk because they use those products more.

"Although 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," researchers said.

According to the study, 60% of the women who participated in the study that reported using straightening products in the past year were Black women.

“Because Black women use hair straightening or relaxer products more frequently and tend to initiate use at earlier ages than other races and ethnicities, these findings may be even more relevant for them,” said Che-Jung Chang, Ph.D., an author of the new study and a research fellow in the NIEHS Epidemiology Branch.

Researchers noted that previous studies linked hair straightening chemicals to hormone-related cancers, like breast and ovarian cancers. Still, no previous study had looked into the relationship with uterine cancer according to the study.