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Hair Straightening Chemicals Linked to Cancer

Recent studies show women who frequently used chemical hair straightening products were twice as likely to develop uterine cancer. The products have also been associated with other health issues. Learn more and find out if you may qualify for a legal case.

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Do Hair Straightening Chemicals cause Cancer?

According to a study published in October 2022 in the International Journal of Cancer, women who used hair straighteners at least every five to eight weeks were about twice as likely to develop cancer than those who did not. Researchers at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) tracked close to 33,500 participants from the Sister Study in which researchers were seeking to identify risk factors for breast cancer and other health conditions. Over an 11-year period, 378 participants were diagnosed with uterine cancer. Women who self-identified as Black represented 7.4% of study participants—but 60% of those who reported using chemical hair straighteners.

What Types of Health Conditions are Associated with Chemical Hair Straighteners?

Previous and ongoing research suggests that the chemicals in hair straightening products are associated with an increased risk of certain hormone-related cancers:

  • Uterine cancer
  • Endometrial cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Breast cancer

The chemicals in hair straighteners have also been associated with endometriosis, uterine fibroids, and fertility issues.


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What is the Risk of Chemicals in Hair Straighteners?

Some of the chemicals found in hair straighteners and relaxers are known as endocrine disruptors. Endocrine or hormone disruptors can mimic or interfere with the body’s natural hormones.


Endocrine disruptors have been linked to various adverse health outcomes and conditions, including early puberty, endometriosis, infertility, altered immune function, and certain cancers.


Although the Sister Study researchers did not collect information about specific brands or ingredients, the research paper did note several chemicals present in straighteners that may contribute to the increased cancer risk:

  • Parabens
  • Phthalates
  • Bisphenol A
  • Metals
  • Formaldehyde

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Is it Safer to Have Hair Straightened in a Salon?

The California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) found using straightening products both at home and in the salon can contribute to adverse effects. However, the risk of cancer increased among women who applied products outside of a professional setting or salon.


DTSC researchers detected 35 different endocrine-disrupting or asthma-associated chemicals in three different hair relaxer kits. The researchers also noted:

  • Salon workers, pregnant women, fetuses, and children were especially vulnerable to the effects of hair-straightening chemicals
  • Continued application can cause damage to the scalp, leaving the skin more permeable to exposure


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Which Brands of Hair Straighteners May Be Linked to Cancer?

In October 2022, a 32-year-old Missouri woman diagnosed with uterine cancer filed a federal lawsuit against L’Oréal and other beauty product companies. Her lawsuit claims the use of the company’s hair straightening products caused her to develop cancer. She had been using hair straightening products since she was in grade school. The companies named in the lawsuit filing include:

  • L’Oréal
  • SoftSheen Carson
  • Strength of Nature
  • Dabur
  • Namaste Laboratories

Additional lawsuits have been filed against:

  • Revlon
  • Optimum Care
  • Dark & Lovely
  • Just for Me
  • Motions

The lawsuits allege the companies knew—or should have known—about the increased cancer risk associated with their products. The lawsuits also claim the companies marketed their products as safe and failed to warn consumers of the risks.


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How Do I Start the Process of Filing a Legal Case?

The best way to find out if you are eligible to file a legal case is by answering a few short questions on our survey. If you are eligible, our experienced team can work to connect you with a hair straightener attorney who is experienced in these matters.


Find out quickly and easily if you qualify for a Hair Straightener legal claim with a free case review.

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