Chemical Hair Straightening May Raise Uterine Cancer Risk For Black Women

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A new study has revealed that women who frequently use chemical hair straightening products have a greater risk of developing uterine cancer compared to those who don't use chemicals, a stat that particularly impacts people of color, according to researchers.

The National Institutes of Health's (NIH) Sister Study reports that using chemical straighteners more than four times a year more than doubled a woman's likelihood of developing uterine cancer.

According to the study, Black women are more likely to use these products, putting them at an even greater risk of uterine cancer.

The disease is the most common cancer of the female reproductive system and its rate of development has been increasing among American women in recent years.

NIH data shows that non-Hispanic Black women have higher rates of aggressive uterine cancer subtypes and poor survival rates.

“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%,” said lead study author Alexandra White in a release. “This doubling rate is concerning. However, it is important to put this information into context – uterine cancer is a relatively rare type of cancer.”

In the U.S., uterine cancer makes up 3.4 percent of all new cancer cases.

Most of the women who said they used chemical straightening products in the past year self-identified as Black, according to the study. The authors of the study noted that Black women tend to start using these products at an earlier age than other races or ethnicities.

Previous studies have also linked permanent hair dyes and straighteners to increased breast and ovarian cancer risk. The recently released NIH data didn't investigate specific brands or ingredients, but researchers said several chemicals found in straighteners, including formaldehyde, metals, and parabens, could be contributing to the increased risk.

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