Find a Top Hair Straightener and Ovarian Cancer Lawyer for Your Lawsuit
What is Hair Relaxing?
Now that there is a prominent hair relaxer cancer lawsuit, what is a hair relaxer? A hair relaxer is a chemical lotion or cream, applied to the scalp, to chemically straighten curly or coily hair. Designed to straighten a curl pattern, relaxers break down the bonds in the hair shaft at the cuticle or cortex layer. To maintain straight hair, a touch up at the roots is usually necessary every six to eight weeks.
Two types of relaxers have dominated the market: lye-based and no-lye. Lye-based relaxers, with sodium hydroxide, are the stronger formulation, and are generally used by professionals. Milder no-lye kits, with calcium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide, are generally used at home.
Relaxer products are marketed primarily to Black women, who have hair that typically curls tightly into “kinks” or “naps.” Relaxers are sometimes referred to as “perms” in the Black community (they are the opposite of a “perm” for straight hair, which is designed to create curls, waves or textures).
Since the late nineteenth century, many Black women have used chemicals or heated tools to “relax” their hair. A 2022 study found that 89% of Black women have used relaxers or straighteners on their hair. Studies suggest that many factors play into a Black woman’s decision to straighten her hair. Straight hair has been viewed as a sign of professionalism or sophistication. A 2020 Michigan State study found that 80% of Black women consider it essential to social and economic success. A 2020 Duke study found that women with natural hairstyles are less likely to get job interviews.
In the past decade, society has increasingly embraced curls and natural hair, reducing relaxer use. Recent legislation has supported the natural hair movement. CROWN Act legislation (Creating A Respectful And Open World For Natural Hair) was first introduced in 2019 in California, prohibiting race-based hair discrimination, allowing natural hair in the workplace and schools. Other states, including New York, Washington, Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey and Colorado have enacted similar laws.
Who Makes Hair Relaxers?
In 1902, Annie Malone, influenced by an aunt who was an herbalist, created a hair straightening recipe for afro-textured hair. Sarah Breedlove, aka Madam C.J. Walker, began using Malone’s hair products soon after. Madam Walker’s Wonderful Hair Grower made her a millionaire and created the channels to sell hair products to the African American community.
Garrett Augustus Morgan invented many things, including the automatic traffic signal and the gas mask. He also discovered the first hair straightening solution. The story, as passed on by his granddaughters, is that he was trying to protect fabric from the heat of a sewing machine needle. When he wiped one of the chemicals off his hands, it completely straightened the wavy fibers in a woolen fabric. He went on to straighten his neighbor’s dog’s fur, then his own hair. In 1913, he organized the G. A. Morgan Hair Refining Co., to sell the cream he developed.
George E. Johnson released Ultra Wave, the first “no-lye” relaxer, for men in 1956. He went on to launch Ultra Sheen for women in 1957. Dark & Lovely, founded in 1972 specifically for Black women, was the first company to launch a non-lye relaxer.
Since then, “creamy crack” (slang often used by the Black community to describe relaxers) has grown in to a large business. L’Oreal acquired Dark & Lovely in 1998. Sales peaked around 2011, when chemical relaxer sales to hair professionals reached $71 million. In 2021, they had fallen to $30 million, as the natural hair movement took hold among younger Black women. In 2021, post-pandemic, relaxed styles made a comeback.
Has Hair Relaxing Caused Disease?
Rates of uterine cancer have risen recently among all women, according to a report by JAMA Oncology. Larger increases were observed among Black women, and Black women die of uterine cancer at twice the rate of white women, according to a March 2022 report from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. The racial disparity is one of the largest observed for any cancer. On October 17, 2022, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) reported that women who reported frequent use of hair straightening products (more than four times a year), were more than twice as likely to develop uterine cancer as non-users.
Commonly listed risk factors for endometrial cancer relate to the balance between estrogen and progesterone: obesity, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) or taking unopposed estrogen. Lynch syndrome, a genetic disorder, is also a risk factor, unrelated to hormones.
According to a 2018 study published in Environmental Research, hair care products targeting Black women are often full of endocrine-disrupting chemicals, many of which are not listed on product labels. Dr Tamarra James-Todd, of Harvard University’s Chan School of Public Health, has found hormone-disrupting chemicals in 50% of hair products marketed to Black women, versus only 7% for white women.
A study published on October 17, 2022 by the NIH’s National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences linked certain hair products to increased risk of uterine cancer. Specifically, certain chemicals in hair straightening products, with endocrine-disrupting and carcinogenic properties, appear to increase the risk of developing uterine cancer to 4% by age 70, versus 1.6% in non-users. The research, which used data from Sister Study, appears to be the first to report a link with uterine cancer. Hair relaxer has previously been linked to higher risk of ovarian cancer and breast cancer.
Federal regulations require testing of pesticides and water contaminants for estrogen receptor activity, but cosmetics – including hair products – are not tested.
Chemical hair straightener lawsuits are being filed against hair product companies that manufacture and sell chemical hair straightener products that contain cancer-causing chemicals connected to an increased risk of ovarian cancer. Parker Waichman LLP provides free case reviews concerning ovarian cancer caused by chemical hair straightening and relaxer products. Our national product liability law firm helps victims obtain substantial compensation from companies that market dangerous products that cause harm.
Carcinogenesis Article Reports That One Study Found an Ovarian Cancer Link
A study published in the September 2021 issue of Carcinogenesis, whether hair products, which could contain endocrine disruptors and carcinogens that may be absorbed into the user’s bloodstream, are connected to incidences of ovarian cancer. The researcher’s findings indicate that regular use of hair straighteners, relaxers, permanent hair dye, or pressing products that African American women commonly use could increase a woman’s risk of ovarian cancer. The researchers hypothesized that women who regularly used these hair products have a greater risk of developing ovarian cancer.
The researchers surveyed nearly 40,000 participants between the ages of 35 and 74 years. Participants in the study were racially and ethnically diverse. The researchers found that some hair products contain hazardous chemicals that may have endocrine-disrupting and carcinogenic properties. Recent discoveries from the Nurses’ Health Study saw a 15–20% increased risk of ovarian cancer connected with using permanent hair dye over 100 times. Moreover, frequent use of straighteners/relaxers (greater than 4 times/year) in the past 52 weeks was connected to a heightened risk of ovarian cancer. The study also discovered that the use of permanent hair dye was positively associated with “non-serous, but inversely associated with serous tumors.”
L’Oréal Faces Calls to Remove Hair Relaxers Amid Cancer Risk Findings
Studies indicate the potential connection between cancer and lye-based products predominantly utilized by black women.
Activists are urging cosmetics giant L’Oréal to discontinue its hair straightening products, primarily used by black women, following research that suggests a heightened cancer risk.
A public letter organized by UK feminist organization Level Up also requests that L’Oréal fund research into the long-term effects of chemical relaxers, which simplify hair straightening.
The letter has been signed by an alliance of politicians, activists, and professionals, including Labour MP Dawn Butler; Women’s Equality party leader Mandu Reid; peer Lola Young; End Violence Against Women Coalition director Andrea Simon; author Reni Eddo-Lodge; actress Lolly Adefope; and prominent #MeToo advocate Prof Marai Larasi.
This campaign is a response to scientific research suggesting a correlation between the use of lye-based chemical hair straighteners (also known as sodium hydroxide or caustic soda) and cancer. A recent study conducted by the US National Institutes of Health revealed that women who employed these products multiple times per year had over double the risk of developing uterine cancer.
Another recent study published in Oxford University’s Carcinogenesis Journal identified connections between extensive use of lye-based relaxers and breast cancer but discovered minimal evidence linking overall hair relaxer usage to breast cancer risk. The researchers acknowledged the inconsistency of study results, including their own, and advocated for additional research to better determine the relationship between breast cancer and products with or without lye.
L’Oréal refutes the alleged link and maintains confidence in the safety of its products. In February, nearly 60 lawsuits alleging that hair relaxer products from L’Oréal and other companies led to cancer and other health issues were combined in a Chicago federal court. The lawsuits claim that the companies were aware of the hazardous chemicals in their products but continued to market and sell them.
L’Oréal asserts that these lawsuits lack legal validity.
Other open letter signatories encompass Leanne Pero of Black Women Rising; Labour MP Apsana Begum; activist Lekia Lée; and feminist advocate Dr. Akima Thomas. An additional eight Labour MPs, including Paulette Hamilton, Ian Lavery, and Valerie Vaz, have also signed the petition. Level Up campaigner Ikamara Larasi stated, “We should all be able to trust that the products we use on our bodies are safe … As one of the largest brands globally, we’re urging L’Oréal to responsibly employ their resources and influence and heed the concerns of Black women.”
Butler commented, “I am all too familiar with these hair-relaxing products. It is deeply concerning that not enough is being done to educate everyone using these products about the potentially severe damage that may result from long-term use.”
A representative for L’Oréal responded, “Our utmost priority is the health, wellness, and safety of all our consumers. We are confident in the safety of our products and believe the recent lawsuits filed against us in the US have no legal merit. “L’Oréal adheres to the strictest safety standards for all its products. Our products undergo a thorough scientific evaluation of their safety by experts who also ensure that we rigorously follow all regulations in every market in which we operate.”
The Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Perfumery Association, which represents cosmetic companies, criticized the US National Institutes of Health study and asserted that the link between hair relaxers and cancer is unfounded.
List of Hair Straightener Products That May Be Linked to Ovarian Cancer
The following chemical straightener and relaxer hair products are available for sale online, at large retailers, and beauty stores:
- Herbal Intensive Dual Conditioning Relaxer
- Originals Olive Oil No-Lye Conditioning Relaxer
- Touch-Up Plus Moisturizing No-Lye New Growth Relaxer
- Olive Miracle Deep Conditioning Relaxer
- Olive Miracle Deep Conditioning No-Lye Relaxer
- Olive Miracle Anti-breakage No-Lye Relaxer
- Olive Miracle Dream Kids Relaxer
- Olive Miracle Touch Up No-Lye Relaxer
Crème of Nature Argan Oil Relaxer
Isoplus No-Lye Conditioning Relaxer
Just For Me
- No-Lye Relaxer for Girls
- No-Lye Texture Softener
- Super Relaxer
- Sensitive Scalp Rhelaxer
- Butter Blend Sensitive Scalp Relaxer
- Classic Formula Relaxer
- Regular Relaxer
- Silkening Shine No-Lye Relaxer
- Smooth & Silken Relaxer
Organic Root Stimulator (ORS) Olive Oil
- No Base Relaxer
- No-Lye Relaxer
- New Growth Relaxer
- Girls Hair Relaxer
- Zone Relaxer
- Professional Crème Relaxer
- Mild Touch Relaxer
ProfectivMegaGrowth No-Lye RelaxeSoft & Beautiful
- Precise No Lye Conditioning Relaxer Supreme
- Precise No Lye Original Relaxer
- No Base Relaxer
- Multi Mineral Reduced Ph Creme Relaxer
- Optimum Smooth Multi-Mineral Creme Hair Relaxer
- Multi-Mineral Reduced Ph Crème Relaxer
- Salon Collection Hair Relaxer Super Strength – Optimum Salon Haircare
- Salon Collection Relaxer Regular Strength – Optimum Salon Haircare
SoftSheen Carson Dark and Lovely
- Moisturizing Relaxer with Shea Butter
- Triple Nourished Silkening Relaxer
- Beautiful Beginnings Kids No-Mistake Nourishing No-Lye Crème Relaxer
- Healthy-Gloss Shea Moisture No-Lye Relaxer
- MegaSilk Shea Butter Relaxer
- Luxury Moisturizing Shea Butter Relaxer
Soft & Beautiful
- Botanicals Regular Texturizer
- No-Lye Regular Texturizer
- No Lye Sensitive Scalp Relaxer
- Conditioning No-Lye Hair Relaxer
- No Base Crème Hair Relaxer
Women who purchased and used chemical hair straighteners/hair relaxers and also developed ovarian cancer could be eligible to recover substantial monetary compensation. For a free consultation, call Parker Waichman LLP nationwide at 1-800-YOUR-LAWYER (1-800-968-7529).
What is Ovarian Cancer?
Ovarian cancer is a form of cancer that begins in the ovaries. The cancer cells multiply quickly and attack and destroy body tissue. Ovarian cancer treatment typically involves surgical removal and chemotherapy. Common Ovarian cancer symptoms include:
- Abdominal swelling or bloating
- Back pain
- Changes in bowel movement, including constipation
- Frequent urination
- Weight loss
- A feeling full when eating too quickly
- Discomfort around the pelvic area
- and other symptoms.
Lawsuit Accuses L’Oréal’s Chemical Hair Straightening Products For Causing One Customer’s Cancer
A new lawsuit alleging Uterine and Ovarian cancer was caused by L’Oréal’s chemical hair straightening products was filed against L’Oréal. The hair straightener cancer lawsuit alleges that L’Oréal’s chemical hair straightening products caused Plaintiff’s Uterine cancer. Plaintiff, a Missouri woman of African-American descent, filed her cancer lawsuit in Illinois. The 32-year-old woman’s lawsuit claims her cancer “was directly and proximately caused by her regular and prolonged exposure to phthalates and other endocrine disrupting chemicals found in Defendants’ hair care products.”
The link between chemical hair straightening and relaxer products with Uterine, Ovarian, and Breast cancers was reported by researchers at the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Additional news articles are reporting that there were two additional chemical hair-straightening cancer lawsuits filed in New York and California. The chemical hair straightening and relaxer cancer lawsuits also stated that there is an association between chemical hair-straightening products and one plaintiff’s cancer diagnosis. As more people become aware of this medical issue, additional lawsuits will be filed.
The Plaintiff’s lawyer said to news reporters that potentially millions of African-American women may become victims of these harmful products and these products were specifically marketed to African-American women. Plaintiff’s lawyer also stated that African-American women are told that they need to use these products to meet society’s standards. Plaintiff’s legal team also believes that there will be 1,000s of lawsuits accusing hair products companies of aggressively misleading African-American women to boost their profit.
GET LEGAL HELP FROM ONE OF OUR OVARIAN CANCER ATTORNEYS TODAY
If you, or a loved one, sustained harm due to chemical hair relaxer or straightener products, contact Parker Waichman LLP to find out if you are eligible to file a civil lawsuit seeking compensation. To receive your free consultation with one of our Ovarian cancer attorneys, simply call 1-800-YOUR-LAWYER (1-800-968-7529) today or simply fill out our website’s contact form to receive your free consultation. Our trial attorneys will help you understand your rights. If our firm can take your case, our attorneys will fight vigorously for the economic compensation that your case truly deserves.
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