New Boston University Study Weighs in On Hair Relaxer Cancer Risk

Just one year after the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (JNCI) published the first study connecting hair relaxer use to uterine cancer, Black Women’s Health Study at Boston University released its own study connecting hair relaxer products to uterine cancer. The study reported that women who regularly used hair relaxers, especially older women, were more likely to develop uterine cancer compared to those who never or rarely used hair relaxers. 

The Black Women’s Health Study followed 44,798 black women with an intact uterus over a period of 22 years, from 1997 to 2019. This study had a considerably larger sample size of black women compared to the JNCI’s Sister Study, which had over 50,000 participants but only around 4,500 self-identified black women.

Despite the substantial difference in the number of black women participants, both studies yielded strikingly similar results. They concluded that women who frequently used hair relaxers had more than double the risk of developing uterine cancer by post-menopausal age compared to women who did not use these products. Moreover, both studies discovered that black women have a higher likelihood of developing aggressive subtypes of uterine cancer than non-Hispanic white women, leading to a twofold increase in their risk of dying from the disease.

Currently, the hair relaxer lawsuit is in the pre-trial discovery phase, which is expected to continue into 2024. As this is a relatively new lawsuit and evidence is still being gathered, no hair relaxer cases have yet gone to trial.

However, the FDA has indicated its intention to propose a ban in April on all hair relaxer products containing formaldehyde or any chemicals that release formaldehyde when heated, as these substances are known to cause cancer. Should this ban come into effect, it would require a significant shift in how professional and drugstore hair relaxer formulas are developed within the beauty industry.

This lawsuit is still in its early stages, so don’t miss your chance to join the hair relaxer lawsuit as trials begin to unfold. If you or an immediate family member developed uterine or ovarian cancer after regularly using a drugstore hair relaxer, see if you qualify to receive compensation.

Featured image shot by Jackie Ricciardi for Boston University Photography.