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If you or a loved one used a hair relaxer for multiple years and were diagnosed with uterine, breast or endometrial cancer, endometriosis or uterine fibroids, you may be eligible to receive compensation.
Do I Qualify for the Hair Relaxer Cancer Lawsuit?
Anyone who used a chemical hair relaxer product and developed cancer, endometriosis or uterine fibroids may be entitled to financial compensation for their injuries, pain and suffering.
Hair Relaxer Products Involved In the Lawsuit
Although a class action lawsuit has yet to be organized, current plaintiffs are pursuing damages against:
- L’Oréal, manufacturer of Dark & Lovely
- Procter & Gamble, manufacturer of Ultra Sheen
- Namaste, LLC, manufacturer of Organic Root Stimulator (ORS) Olive Oil
- TCB Naturals, manufacturer of Just for Me
- Cantu Beaty
- Revlon, manufacturer of Strength of Nature and Motions
- Soft & Beautiful
- SoftSheen-Carson, manufacturer of Optimum Care
- Colomer U.S.A., manufacturer of Crème of Nature
About the Hair Relaxer Lawsuits
In October 2022, plaintiff Jenny Mitchell filed a lawsuit against multiple manufacturers of hair relaxer products, alleging that long-term use caused her to develop uterine cancer. Mitchell says she started using these products when she was just 10 years old in 2000 and applied them every two months to straighten her roots. In 2018, Mitchell was diagnosed with uterine cancer, despite having no family history of the condition and had to undergo a full hysterectomy.
Mitchell alleges the manufacturers, including L’Oréal, Namaste, Revlon and ORS, knew of these risks for years but kept these chemicals in their formulas and continued to market the products as safe. The lawsuit further alleges that warning labels were not included and descriptors like “botanicals”, “natural” and “nourishing” were added to packaging, which created a false sense of security.
In November 2022, another hair relaxer cancer lawsuit was filed by multiple plaintiffs in Michigan, alleging that years of exposure to carcinogens and other chemicals increased cancer risks. They proposed establishing a monitoring program to direct individuals fitting this profile to appropriate medical treatments.
A third case from a plaintiff who developed uterine fibroids after years of hair relaxer use was filed in the Southern District of Georgia. The plaintiff received her diagnosis at age 22 after consistently using these products from the age of 6. She first had the growths removed in 2011, after they caused her extreme pain but they returned eight years later.
Multi-District Litigation Pending
As multiple individuals come forward with claims of long-term hair relaxer use and uterine cancer, consolidation into multi-district litigation has been requested. The motion filed with the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) recommended consolidating nine pending cases covering multiple federal district courts and 13 plaintiffs in the Northern District of Illinois.
Despite multiple lawsuits alleging a similar relationship, L’Oréal and other defendants have since pushed back on consolidating all pending claims. In a statement made to the Washington Posts, L’Oréal alleges all of their products undergo strict testing and are still subject to FDA safety regulations. They additionally claim the recent National Institute of Environmental Health study shows no correlation between specific hair relaxer ingredients and the development of uterine cancer.
What Are Hair Relaxers?
Hair relaxers are a group of personal care products designed to alter the hair’s molecular structure. Primarily used by African American women for hair straightening, these high pH solutions are directly applied to the base of the hair shaft. The cell bonds deep within the hair strand are broken down to create a straighter, smoother appearance.
Hair relaxers use multiple chemicals, including phthalates like di-2-ethyl hexyl phthalate (DEHP) and other endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs). DEHP is classified as a carcinogen and associated with higher risks for reproductive issues, endometriosis, cancers and developmental abnormalities.
Risks of Using Hair Relaxers
According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), hair relaxers are among the most dangerous of personal care products. Due to limited regulation, personal care products do not always go through extensive outside testing before they hit shelves. Recent research has examined the use of hair relaxers and higher rates of certain cancers among African American women after years of exposure to EDCs.
A study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute in October 2022, led by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, found that only 1.64 percent of women who have never used a chemical hair straightener develop uterine cancer by age 70. Frequent use of these products increased the rate of uterine cancer to 4.05 percent.
Researchers examined data from 34,000 women between the ages of 35 and 74 and followed up with them after 10 years. They found that those who used a hair relaxer product saw higher rates of uterine cancer. It was concluded that this pattern may explain why cases of uterine cancer have started increasing among African American women.
Two studies from 2021 found that individuals who regularly use chemical hair relaxers see their risks for breast cancer rise about 30 percent. A 2019 study in the International Journal of Cancer examining 50,000 participants came to a similar conclusion.
A 2017 study published in Carcinogenesis focused on use of hair relaxers and rates of breast cancer among African American women. Researchers noted that users are exposed to carcinogens and risks like scalp lesions and burns increase chemical exposure. Methods like flat-ironing and blow-drying after a hair relaxer treatment also release these chemicals, further increasing exposure risks.