Why Are More Women Demanding Justice Over the Use of Chemical Hair Relaxers?

For decades, chemical hair relaxers have been a staple in beauty routines for millions of women across the globe seeking straight, silky hair. However, recent research has uncovered alarming health risks associated with these products that could be endangering women’s health in ways previously unknown. 

As studies point to links between relaxer chemicals and elevated cancer risks, more and more women are taking a stand against cosmetics companies. These companies manufactured the products they used for years but failed to warn consumers about the potential dangers.

Lawsuits are now mounting as victims demand accountability and compensation for illnesses they believe were caused by the very hair products used to achieve society’s standards of beauty.

Health Concerns and Scientific Evidence 

Researchers from Boston University recently looked into the potential connection between postmenopausal black women’s susceptibility to uterine cancer and their use of chemical hair relaxers. Long-term and frequent use of hair relaxers was shown to be associated with a higher likelihood of getting uterine cancer, according to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Analyzing data from over 45,000 Black women who participated in the Black Women’s Health Study was part of the research. Following a survey regarding their prior use of chemical hair relaxers, participants were tracked for up to 22 years to track the frequency of uterine cancer diagnoses. 

The results showed that uterine cancer risk was more than fifty percent higher in women who utilized hair relaxers more than twice a year or for more than five years. This risk was compared to women who used them infrequently or never at all.

Lead author Dr. Kimberly Bertrand stated that the results suggest moderate to heavy relaxer use may lead to increased uterine cancer risk after menopause. She noted that Black women already face disproportionately high rates of aggressive uterine cancer subtypes and mortality. Reducing exposure to potentially toxic chemicals in hair products could help address this troubling disparity.

The study controlled for other risk factors, strengthening the link to hair relaxers. Dr. Bertrand hopes the findings raise awareness of relaxers’ possible health effects and promote alternatives like natural hairstyles or reformulating products. Improving cosmetics regulation and anti-discrimination policies could also benefit Black women’s health long-term. 

Oncologist Dr. Onyinye D. Balogun further underscored the urgency of prioritizing the safety of hair relaxers, especially in light of their previous associations with breast and ovarian cancers. 

She says although further investigation is still warranted, these results underscore the need for preventative steps.

Legal Actions and Calls for Change

A multidistrict litigation (MDL) has been formed to consolidate lawsuits, including the hair relaxer lawsuit, filed across the US, claiming hair straightening products cause cancer. The mass tort allegations state chemicals in relaxers and straighteners can result in uterine, breast, and other cancers in women.

The MDL, centralized in the Northern District of Illinois, brings together hundreds of personal injury cases. Plaintiffs assert they developed cancers like uterine and developed health issues like uterine fibroids from using popular hair straightening brands over many years.

According to TorHoerman Law, allegations have been made against numerous prominent cosmetic businesses for allegedly including carcinogenic ingredients without informing consumers. L’Oreal, Softsheen-Carson, Dark & Lovely, Just For Me, Motions Hair, ORS Hair Care, African Pride, and other brands are among those facing accusations in the MDL.

By combining similar cases, the MDL streamlines the pretrial process, eliminating duplicative discovery demands and motions that slow individual litigation. All share common scientific and legal questions about chemical exposure and alleged toxicities.

Prior research has associated chemicals in permanent hair dyes and straighteners with breast, ovarian, and other hormonally-linked cancers. Plaintiffs here argue long-term use of popular products at regular intervals posed unnecessary risks they were never made aware of.

The hair relaxer lawsuit could uncover whether manufacturers had evidence of health hazards yet continued marketing without precautions. A resolution may also bring compensation to victims and set new industry standards to protect consumers better. The consolidated process helps ensure these issues are addressed efficiently and consistently.

Chemical Hair Relaxers

What Are the Alternatives to Hair Relaxers?

If you want to straighten your curly hair without chemical relaxers, there are some great natural alternatives to consider. Oil treatments are a very accessible and affordable option that can be done at home. Coconut, olive, and avocado oils deeply moisturize hair while smoothing frizz. Just be aware that oils may weigh hair down.

Heat styling with a flat iron is straightforward, too. Models range from $25 to $200 depending on quality. Using the right temperature can help you achieve a straighter look in under an hour. However, prolonged heat exposure could damage hair over time.

For long-lasting results, keratin treatments at the salon use bonding proteins to seal the cuticle for up to six months. While very effective, treatments cost $600-800. Be sure to ask about formaldehyde content in formulas.

Silicone creams are widely available over-the-counter options. Apply to nearly dry hair and the silicone molds hair straight without heat. Washing out the cream fully can be difficult, and it only provides temporary relief from frizz.

As research increasingly highlights the health hazards of relying on chemical relaxers, many women are waking up to the fact that society’s standards of beauty have come at the steep price of their well-being. 

For decades, industries prioritized profits over consumer protection, keeping women in the dark about risks from products used regularly. While legal action seeks accountability and remedy for past harms, the future demands comprehensive reform – from full disclosure of product contents to empowerment through celebration of diverse beauty. 

When health is as highly valued as appearance, alternatives that preserve both will rightfully take the place of chemicals shown to endanger women’s lives. The quest for justice may be long, but it paves the way for safety, acceptance, and wellness for all.

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