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According to a recent US study, hair straightening chemicals are to blame for the rise in rare and aggressive uterine cancers, particularly in black women. 378 instances of uterine cancer were noted in the study, which lasted roughly 11 years and involved 33,947 adult women. When compared to women who had never used hair straightening chemicals, it was shown that the risk of developing uterine cancer increased up to four times among women who had used hair straightening chemicals during the previous 12 months. To put this into perspective, the risk is 4.05% for women who use hair straighteners every day, compared to 1.64% for those who never use them. Although this risk may appear minor, it actually results in an increase.
Additionally, there is no connection between hair dyes and cancer. According to NIEHS researchers, “These results represent the first epidemiological evidence of a connection between the use of straightening products and uterine cancer.” These unsettling outcomes are a result of the chemicals’ disruption of the endocrine (hormone) system. Typically, messenger molecules link hormones to their intended organ targets. In the past, high levels of the hormones progesterone and estrogen were linked to uterine cancer. Cancer risk arises because the chemicals in the majority of hair products mimic these hormones and attach them to receptors.
In 18 hair products examined in 2018, scientists discovered substances that disturb the endocrine system. In addition, components contained 84 percent of compounds that were not listed on product labels. In addition, 11 goods included ingredients that were either restricted by California law or outlawed by the European Union Cosmetics Directive.
Using permanent hair dye and straightening chemicals more regularly was linked to a higher risk of breast cancer, especially in black women, according to a 2019 NIH-funded study that looked at these products. Permanent hair dye and straightening chemicals were also linked to a greater incidence of ovarian cancer, according to a follow-up study conducted in 2021.