NIH study: Some hair products linked to higher risk of uterine cancer

Published: Oct. 20, 2022 at 9:56 AM EDT
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CRIMORA, Va. (WHSV) - Hair straighteners or relaxers chemically break down the curl pattern of textured hair.

“We didn’t have a a lot of choices when it came to our hair care and natural hair care. That was why a lot of people did the relaxer. It made your hair so easy to maintain,” cosmetologist Tamika Derozen explained.

The National Institutes of Health studied thousands of women for 11 years. Researchers say those who used hair straightening products more than four times in the past year were more than twice as likely to develop uterine cancer compared to those who did not use the products. The release highlights that the risk may be greater for Black women because of more frequent use.

“We know that uterine cancer incidence is increasing especially among Black women and could this be confounding or a real association? We don’t know,” Dr. Leigh Cantrell said.

Dr. Cantrell is a GYN oncologist and professor at the University of Virginia. She says we may not know enough to say stop using the products but the study is definitely something to pay attention to.

“I think people should know about this you know I think there are other things, [obesity] is a much greater risk factor than this. So controlling things like your weight exercise and your diet. We know those are what we call modifiable risk factors. I think people have to make a personal choice,” Dr. Cantrell explained.

Derozen is the owner of Illuminating Styles Barber and Beauty Salon. Having been a cosmetologist for decades, she says there are many more options today than in the past to straighten your hair or wear it naturally.

“Each person has to find what works for them. You can buy a natural hair product that does nothing for your curl type. You have to research to find what products work well with your type of hair because you will see a big difference and it will be so much easier to comb and maintain,” Derozen added.

The study notes uterine cancer is a relatively rare type of cancer. For more information on the study, click here.