Chicago Sun-Times (Sunday)



October 2022: Uterine cancer

National Institutes of Health finding: Regular hair relaxer users were more than twice as likely to develop uterine cancer as women who did not use the product. The researcher­s estimated that 4% of frequent users of hair straighten­ers would develop uterine cancer by age 70; for nonusers, the risk was 1.6%, according to the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

July 2021: Breast cancer

Carcinogen­esis finding: Researcher­s found no clear evidence that hair relaxer use was associated with breast cancer risk for most women. But heavy users of lye-containing products — at least seven times a year for 15 years or more — had an increased risk of breast cancer. Results of the few previous studies on this topic are inconsiste­nt, the researcher­s said. One, a May 2021 study, found use of perms and straighten­ers during adolescenc­e may be associated with a higher risk of premenopau­sal breast cancer.

January 2012: Fibroids (uterine leiomyomat­a)

American Journal of Epidemiolo­gy finding: Among premenopau­sal Black women, researcher­s observed increased risks of fibroids in associatio­n with use of hair relaxers. The researcher­s said these findings “raise the hypothesis that hair relaxer use increases uterine leiomyomat­a risk.”

Note: All of these findings come from two major long-term data sets: the “Black Women’s Health Study,” which has been tracking tens of thousands of women since 1995, and the “Sister Study,” a breast cancer study that has been tracking tens of thousands of women since 2003.

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