Four Georgia women are taking up the mantle again to force manufacturers of hair relaxer products to address or remove certain chemicals linked to the development of uterine and other types of cancer. Over the past several years scientific evidence has pointed to a link between the use of chemical hair relaxers and increased risk of fibroids and uterine cancer.
This case, first brought by Kiara Burroughs along with other related claims will pave the way for victims to pursue a hair relaxer cancer lawsuit. Burroughs and three other complainants have filed lawsuits against L’Oreal and Strength of Nature. The women who used hair relaxers or “perms” for years say they later experienced health problems including uterine fibroids, breast cancer and endometrial cancer.
Each woman is suing for approximately $2 million each charging that the hair relaxer manufacturers charging fraud, general negligence, and negligent failure to warn about risks and design or manufacturing defects.
A study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute in October 2022 using data from more than 33,000 women found those who reported using hair straightening products were almost twice as likely to have developed uterine cancer than those who did not. “Because 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,” Dr Che-Jung Chang, a co-author of the study, said in a statement.
Whether it’s personal preference, tradition, or response to external pressure to have straight hair, relaxers are a habit many Black women just won’t, or can’t, quit.
Even first lady Michelle Obama struggled with the issue of to perm or not to perm. Michelle Obama addressed the pressure to conform to a certain aesthetic while serving as first lady. During an appearance in Washington DC to promote her new book she said, wearing long braids on stage: “As Black women, we deal with it, the whole thing about do you show up with your natural hair? As first lady, I did not wear braids. I thought about it … nope, nope, they’re not ready.”
In Washington D.C., lawmakers have increasingly been pressuring the Food and Drug Administration to take these concerns seriously. Late last year, the FDA proposed a new rule to ban certain chemicals in relaxers.
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