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Hair Relaxers and Uterine Cancer

Hair Relaxers and Uterine Cancer

Find Out If You Have a Hair Relaxer Cancer Lawsuit

Any person who uses hair relaxers knows the chemicals in them are quite strong. The smell alone is unmistakable. Recent research indicates there may be a link between hair relaxers and cancer. If you are a frequent user of the products, you may have reason to be worried about your health. Some of the hair straightener chemicals have been linked to cancer. Unfortunately, some women who use hair relaxers have already been diagnosed with cancer. Are you one of these women?

If you have been diagnosed with uterine cancer and use hair relaxers, there may be a link between the product and your cancer.

You also may have cause to bring a cancer lawsuit against the company or companies making the hair relaxer products you used. The best way to find out is to speak with an attorney who has experience handling cases like yours. Your lawyer will need strong negotiating skills to obtain the full amount of compensation you deserve in a settlement. Having an attorney who is also a powerful litigator is important because your case may end up in court.

Can Hair Relaxers Cause Cancer?

Data From a Recent Study of Women’s Use of Hair Products and Cancer

Research indicates there may be a correlation between frequent use of hair relaxers and cancer. A recent study by scientists at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, called the Sister Study, collected data about cancer risks for women whose sister 1. Part of the information gathered relates to types of hair products the women used, including hair relaxers. The study included over 50,000 women and covered a period of 6 years. It sought participants from a diverse set of backgrounds, including a racially diverse cohort. As a result, researchers were able to gather a larger volume of data on products used by women of color.

A related study pulled from data collected in the Sister Study, but used a more focused group of women. The goal was to examine incidences of uterine cancer. This group of close to 34,000 women were between ages 35-74 and researchers followed up with them for 11 years to collect data over a longer period than the original Sister Study.

What Does the Hair Relaxer and Cancer Study Show?

Finding the Link Between Uterine Cancer and Hair Relaxers

The focused study of the approximately 34,000 women identified a correlation between women who frequently use hair relaxers and cancer 2. Researchers determined “frequent use” to be at least four times per year. Among the general population of women, 1.4% get uterine cancer, but among women who use hair relaxer products, that number is 4.3%. The researchers also examined the effects of other hair products for the women in the study. They found no correlation between uterine cancer and hair dyes or permanents, but data does show a connection between use of hair dyes and breast and ovarian cancers.

Women who use hair relaxers at least four times per year had close to 3 times the likelihood of developing uterine cancer than those women who did not use these products.

There are several chemicals in hair relaxers that are linked to cancer. When researchers looked at the tissue of women who had uterine cancer and used hair relaxers, they found several carcinogens.

Exposure to these carcinogenic chemicals poses a risk to women using hair relaxers, and that risk increases because they are used on the scalp. There is more absorption of chemicals through the skin of the scalp than through skin on the face, arms, or elsewhere on the body. Hair relaxers present an additional threat, too. They can burn the scalp or cause other injuries, and dangerous chemicals may absorb into the body more quickly through the injured scalp tissue.

Hair Straightening Chemicals Linked to Cancer

Endocrine Disrupters May Be the Cause

Many chemicals found in hair straightening products are considered carcinogenic. That means there is not just one, but several chemicals that could lead to cancer for those who use them. Hair relaxers may contain formaldehyde, or chemicals that produce formaldehyde, parabens, and phthalates. These chemicals are considered endocrine disrupters because they interfere with the endocrine system, which means they affect production and delivery of hormones throughout the body. Those hormones may then lead to cancer growth in a woman’s uterine system or breasts.

Carcinogenic Chemicals in Hair Relaxers


Several governmental research agencies state that formaldehyde is a known, or at the very least a probable, carcinogen. According to the American Cancer Society, some keratin hair smoothing products contain formaldehyde or have chemicals that release formaldehyde 3. Because this carcinogenic compound can be absorbed through the skin and inhalation, it is dangerous to anyone using the hair products, including hair relaxers, that contain it.


These chemicals function as preservatives and are known endocrine disruptors. Because they are present in many hair relaxers, this is of particular concern to those who use these products. Recent research presented by medical professionals at the Endocrine Society meeting in late 2022 showed that paraben exposure may promote breast cancer growth in Black women 4. The presence of this chemical in hair relaxers means it may also pose a risk for development of other cancers associated with endocrine disruptors, including uterine cancer.


A study by a researcher at Columbia University, who is now at Harvard University’s School of Public Health, found that both parabens and phthalates present in hair care products used by Black women are carcinogenic 5. These chemicals are endocrine disruptors and pose a danger to women because they may lead to cancers particular to their bodies that involve breast and uterine tissue. The earlier in life a Black woman begins to use hair straightener, the more exposure she has to endocrine disruptors, which may increase the cancer risk she faces.

What Does All This Data About Hair Products and Cancer Mean to You?

Several hair relaxer and cancer lawsuits are pending currently, and the number is growing. You may have opportunity to pursue a product liability lawsuit. If you have used hair relaxers and have uterine cancer, you should speak with an attorney to learn about your legal options. If you have a case, your attorney can pursue compensation you deserve in a personal injury case.

Our team at The Cochran Firm has the experience and skills needed to take on corporate attorneys when our clients have been injured by use of a product. We will aggressively fight for the full amount of compensation possible in your case.

You deserve justice. You deserve compensation from the hair relaxer manufacturers responsible for your cancer. Give our attorneys a call today at 800-969-4400 to discuss your case.

What Compensation is Available in a Hair Relaxer Cancer Lawsuit?

A lawsuit involving injuries caused by use of a product will seek to recover damages for the costs incurred by the injured party. If the injured person passed away, damages can be recovered in a wrongful death lawsuit. Pennsylvania law establishes a time limit in which a case can be filed; therefore, it’s important to contact an attorney quickly so that work on your case can begin immediately (42 Pa. C.S. 5524) 6.

Economic Damages in a Hair Relaxer Lawsuit

Costs that are easy to calculate are considered economic damages. These include:

  • Hospitalization and surgical costs
  • Costs for in-home care
  • Transportation costs associated with treatment
  • Medical bills, such as costs of medication or durable medical equipment
  • Lost income for the time that the injury prevented you from working
  • Estimated future medical costs
  • Estimated future lost income.

Non-economic Damages

Non-economic damages in a lawsuit related to cancer caused by the use of hair relaxers may include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Diminished quality of life.

Damages When Cancer Caused by Hair Relaxers Led to Your Loved One’s Death

In a wrongful death claim, the surviving family members can bring a lawsuit that can recover the damages associated with a personal injury case while the loved one was still alive. After they pass away, the lawsuit can pursue lost income that would have been provided to the family by the deceased. Damages for loss of consortium can also be obtained, which relates to the loss of companionship of the loved one who passed away.

Punitive Damages Against Companies Making Hair Relaxers

Punitive damages may also be available in a case where a hair relaxer product causes cancer. These types of damages are rare and are used only when a manufacturer shows extreme negligence, willful misconduct or malicious intent. The twofold goals of punitive damages are to:

  1. Punish the defendant
  2. Make the amount of the award significant enough to dissuade others from causing similar harm.

The courts take product injury cases seriously and may decide it is necessary to send a message to companies so they stop bringing dangerous products to the market.

Risks of Developing Uterine Cancer from Use of Hair Relaxers

Black Women Using Hair Relaxers Have Higher Risk of Uterine Cancer

Because the primary users of hair straightening products are Black women, the connection between those hair products and uterine cancer is important for them to understand. Other research on uterine cancer shows that the rate of that type of cancer has been increasing in the past few decades. It also strikes Black women more often than women in other racial groups.

Researchers at the National Cancer Institute show that there has been a substantial increase in aggressive forms of uterine cancer from 2000 to 2015. For Black women, the rate of this type of uterine cancer was 25.9 per 100,000 women. This is significantly higher than the rate for Hispanic women (10.1), Asian/Pacific Islander women (7.5) and White women (11.4) 7.

Additional data about Black women who are diagnosed with cancer makes the situation more bleak. Because access to good health care may be more difficult for some Black women, their outcomes when they get cancer are worse than for other women. Not only do they suffer more, they also have a higher fatality rate.

Black women are twice as likely to die of uterine cancer than women of other races 8.

When it comes to the more common breast cancer, Black women die at a rate of 40% more than non-Hispanic White women, despite a slightly lower incidence of the disease 9. The differences in mortality rates vary by location across the country, suggesting that access to quality healthcare is a factor.

The data points to a serious issue facing Black women who use hair relaxers and get uterine cancer: the products have a greater chance of causing more severe illness or death.

The study showed that women who used these products with frequency have an increased incidence of uterine cancer. That frequency is four times per year, or more. Black women are the group who most commonly use hair relaxers, so they are more at risk than other women. However, any woman who uses these products at least four times per year has an increased chance of developing uterine cancer.

The impact of uterine cancer on a woman’s health can depend upon how quickly she seeks medical care and the level of care she receives. Unfortunately, studies have shown that racial and economic disparities can lead to worse outcomes for Black women than for other racial groups after being diagnosed with cancer.

Do You Regularly Use Hair Relaxer and Have Uterine Cancer?

If you use hair relaxer products at least four times per year, you could be at risk. And if you use these products and believe you may have cancer, you should immediately consult with your doctor. If you have already been diagnosed with uterine cancer and have used hair relaxers with frequency, you should consult with an attorney to learn about legal options available to you.

Should You Pursue a Hair Relaxer and Uterine Cancer Lawsuit?

Product liability lawsuits are complex and often require taking on companies with deep pockets and a deep bench of corporate lawyers. If you want to pursue a lawsuit, your first step should be to talk with an attorney who has experience with personal injury cases and who understands product liability laws.

If you use hair relaxers and have uterine cancer, you may very well have good reason to proceed with a lawsuit; however, proving that hair straightener chemicals were the cause of your uterine cancer will be complicated. Your attorney will need to prove that negligent actions on the part of the manufacturer of the hair straightener led to your uterine cancer.

A successful lawsuit will require proving that the hair relaxer chemicals caused your cancer and that the company selling the product should bear responsibility for the injuries you sustained.

Some, or all, of the below elements should apply to your situation to increase your chance of success in a hair straightener cancer lawsuit:

  • You have been diagnosed with uterine cancer.
  • You have used hair relaxers at least four times a year for many years.
  • You have used hair relaxers during and since adolescence.
  • You applied the hair relaxers at home or had it applied in a salon.
  • You may have suffered scalp burns from use of the hair relaxers.
  • You do not have a family history of uterine cancer.

Legal claims are already being made against companies that make hair relaxers, like one filed recently in Illinois 10. It names multiple companies that make these hair products because the plaintiff used several brands over more than a decade, beginning with use in her adolescent years. Many Black women are in the same situation. They’ve used various brands of hair straighteners over the years, and the chemicals in any of them may cause uterine cancer.

How The Cochran Firm Can Help You

If you believe you may have a legal case, call our attorneys at The Cochran Firm so we can discuss your use of hair relaxers and your cancer diagnosis. If your loved one died from uterine cancer and you believe the cancer was caused by hair straightener chemicals, you should also contact us. It is possible you could pursue a wrongful death claim.

Our team will gather all medical information needed to prove your case, and we can bring in expert witnesses to show how your cancer may have been caused by hair straightener chemicals. We will also total the losses you’ve suffered as a result of your uterine cancer. This assessment will not only include past and current medical bills, it will also include future medical costs and lost income, among other costs. We will aggressively pursue the full compensation possible in your hair relaxer cancer lawsuit.

This type of legal case is complex, so it’s important we begin work as soon as possible. Call our attorneys today at 800-969-4400 and we can get started.


1 National Institutes of Health. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Sister Study.

2 Che-Jung Chang, Katie O’Brien, Alexander P. Keil, et al. Use of Straighteners and Other Hair Products and Incident Uterine Cancer. Journal of the National Cancer Institute. October 17, 2022.

3 American Cancer Society. Formaldehyde and Cancer Risk. Rev. October 24, 2022.

4 Parabens: Certain Types May Increase Breast Cancer Risk in Black Women. Medical News Today.

5 Some Black Hair Products May Harm Users. News. Harvard School of Public Health. 2020.

6 Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, Title 42, section 5524. Two-Year Limitation.

7 National Institutes of Health. Study Shows Incidence Rates of Aggressive Subtypes of Uterine Cancer Rising. May 22, 2019.

8 National Institutes of Health. Uterine Cancer Deaths Are Rising in the United States, and Are Highest in Black Women.

9 Ismail Jatoi, Hyuna Sung, Ahmedin Jamal. The Emergence of Racial Disparity in U.S. Breast-Cancer Mortality.  New England Journal of Medicine.

10 Julian Mark. She Was Diagnosed with Cancer at 28. Her Lawsuit Blames Hair Relaxers. Washington Post. October 27, 2022.