Women who use chemical hair straighteners frequently are at a higher risk of uterine cancer as opposed to those who do not use these products, says a new study published in Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Chemicals like parabens, bisphenol A, metals and formaldehyde could be some of the contributing factors, which are widely used in women’s hair straightening treatment, said the researchers. However, they found no associations of uterine cancer for other hair products which include hair dyes, bleach, highlights, or perms.
“We estimated that 1.64% of women who never used hair straighteners would go on to develop uterine cancer by the age of 70, but for frequent users, that risk goes up to 4.05%,” study leader Alexandra White of the United States National Institute of Environmental Health Safety (NIEHS) said in a statement.
An estimated 65,950 cases of uterine cancer were reported across the globe in 2022. The cases have been sharply rising in the United States, especially among Black women.
Che-Jung Chang, Ph.D, a research fellow in the NIEHS Epidemiology Branch said, “Black women use hair straightening or relaxer products more frequently and tend to initiate use at earlier ages than other races and ethnicities, these findings may be even more relevant for them.”
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A total of 33,947 women belonging to various racial communities in the age group of 35-74 were a part of the study which took place between 2003-2009. The women involved in the study, who never used hair straighteners, noted that the risk of developing the reproductive cancer by 70 years of age was 1.64 per cent while women who used hair straighteners frequently possessed a risk of 4.05 per cent.
According to the National Institute of Health, the findings of this study are consistent with previous studies on how straighteners can increase the risk of hormone-related cancers in women.
There is increased absorption of chemical straighteners directly through the scalp which may also be aggravated by burns and lesions.
In 2019, another research by National Institute of Environmental Health Safety found that permanent hair dye and straighteners could increase the risk of breast and ovarian cancer.