Countless women across the country regularly use chemical hair straightening products, especially Black women trying to change the appearance of their natural hair. But they may be unknowingly jeopardizing their health. A study released in October by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) showed that users of chemical hair straightening products are at a higher risk of developing uterine cancer.
More than 33,000 women participated in the study. 1.64% of those who never used hair straightening products went on to develop uterine cancer. That percentage jumped to 4.05% of participants who used the products at least four times in one year. While the study found no connection between uterine cancer and race, Black women may be at a higher risk because they use hair straighteners most frequently.
Since the release of the study, hair straightener lawsuits have been filed against manufacturers, alleging the companies knew or should have known of the increased health risks associated with their products but sold them anyway.
Symptoms of Uterine Cancer
Cancer occurs when cells reproduce abnormally and grow out of control. Uterine cancer begins in the female reproductive organ called the uterus (or womb). Uterine cancer can also be called endometrial cancer, named for the endometrium (lining of the uterus). The risk of uterine cancer increases as women age and mostly affects those who are going through or have gone through menopause.
There are two types of uterine cancer. Endometrial cancer develops on the lining of the uterus, and uterine sarcoma develops on the muscles and supporting tissues of the uterus. Endometrial cancer is more common and easily treated and cured, while uterine sarcoma is more aggressive and difficult to treat.
Uterine cancer symptoms to watch for include abnormal vaginal spotting and discharge, post-menopausal spotting or periods, and pain/pressure in your pelvis. Each woman knows what her normal period should look and feel like. If something seems off, especially after menopause, consult a medical professional right away.
How is Uterine Cancer Diagnosed?
There are no specific screening options for uterine cancer. Your annual pap smear will detect cervical cancer, but unfortunately, not uterine. However, if you understand the warning signs of uterine cancer, sharing them with your doctor can lead to an earlier diagnosis.
If a woman is experiencing symptoms of uterine cancer, her doctor will order additional tests to determine the cause, usually beginning with a transvaginal ultrasound. This procedure can help rule out or diagnose uterine cancer. Should the ultrasound warrant further evaluation, a biopsy is the next step. A general practitioner or a specialist can order these tests. Uterine cancer is very serious, and symptoms should never be ignored.
Uterine Cancer Hair Straightener Lawsuits
Multiple women have filed lawsuits against chemical hair straightener manufacturers L’Oréal, Revlon, and more. Plaintiffs allege that these products contributed to their uterine cancer diagnoses and the resulting treatment or surgery. They claim the companies should have included labels warning users of the presence of possibly carcinogenic ingredients.
More than 65,900 women annually are diagnosed with uterine cancer, accounting for 3.4% of all new cancer diagnoses. All cancers are severe health conditions requiring medical intervention. Knowing the symptoms and risk factors of uterine cancer will allow women to take charge of their own health. As with all cancers, early diagnosis is the key to a stronger survival outcome.
Women who have developed uterine, breast, or other cancers after regular use of chemical hair straightening products may want to consult with a hair straightener cancer lawyer experienced in product liability to determine if they have possible legal options. Legal representation can help restore justice and win compensation for medical bills, lost wages or quality of life, and pain and suffering.