Why Are People Filing Chemical Hair Straightener Lawsuits?
Women are filing lawsuits against chemical hair straightener companies after a 2022 National Institutes of Health study found women who used chemical hair straighteners had a greater risk of developing uterine cancer. Defendants include L’Oreal, Soft Sheen Carson, Strength of Nature and others.
The study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, found women who used chemical straighteners more than four times a year had more than double the risk of uterine cancer. Studies also linked chemical hair straighteners to increased breast cancer, uterine fibroid and endometriosis risk.
Uterine cancer rates among Black women have been rising, and researchers say chemical straighteners may be to blame. About 60% of women in the study who reported using hair straighteners were Black women.
In November 2022, plaintiffs’ lawyers asked the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to consolidate all of the cases in multidistrict litigation in Illinois.
Cancers and Health Conditions Linked to Chemical Hair Straighteners
Studies have linked endocrine disrupting chemicals, or EDCs, in chemical hair straighteners to various health problems such as cancer, endometriosis and uterine fibroids. The risk of these conditions goes up with frequent use.
Researchers define frequent use as more than four times a year, or every five to eight weeks. Dangerous chemicals in hair straighteners include phthalates, parabens and a very toxic chemical called DEHP.
In the 2022 NIH study, researchers looked at data from 33,947 women aged 35 to 74. Women who reported using hair straighteners had higher incidence rates of uterine cancer.
Women who used the products more than four times in 12 months had more than double the risk.
Prior to the 2022 NIH study, a 2019 NIH study also found women who used chemical hair straighteners every five to eight weeks were about 30% more likely to develop breast cancer.
Black women have a higher risk of breast cancer because they use these products more often, researchers found.
Researchers believe endometriosis may be caused by hormonal issues. Phthalates, parabens and EDCs like those found in chemical hair straighteners and hair dye could disrupt hormones and increase the risk of endometriosis, according to some studies.
One study published in 2018 in the Journal of Human Reproductive Sciences found high levels of phthalates in women diagnosed with endometriosis.
A November 2022 study by Northwestern Medicine found women with high exposures to phthalates such as DEHP and its metabolites have a higher risk of developing symptomatic fibroids. Researchers found DEHP activates certain hormone receptors and causes fibroid tumor growth.
Prior to this study, researchers established a link between uterine fibroids and phthalates. Scientists also discovered DEHP can pass from a mother to a baby and gradually release from consumer products into indoor environments.
What Brands Have Been Named in the Lawsuits?
Plaintiffs have filed lawsuits against L’Oreal and other hair straightener makers and popular brands such as Soft & Beautiful and Dark and Lovely.
“Defendants knew or should have known that their hair relaxer products were dangerous and defective because they contain highly toxic EDCs and they manufactured, marketed and sold them anyway,” lawsuits claim.
- Strength of Nature Global LLC
- Soft & Beautiful
- TCB Naturals
- Just for Me
- Olive Oil Girls
- Dark and Lovely
In addition to individual injury lawsuits, defendants also face a class action in Illinois court that demands a refund for the full purchase price of the products. The lawsuits claim, “The presence of EDCs in Defendants’ Toxic Hair Straightener was not disclosed in the products’ label, in violation of state and federal law.”
Who Qualifies to File a Chemical Hair Straightener Lawsuit?
You may qualify to file a chemical hair straightener lawsuit if you used a chemical hair straightener or relaxer and were later diagnosed with uterine cancer, breast cancer, uterine fibroids or endometriosis. Only a lawyer can tell you if you qualify, so make sure you speak to an attorney right away. There may be time limits to file your claim.
When you speak to a lawyer, they may ask you questions about your experience with chemical hair straighteners. Have any receipts and information about your diagnosis available. If you can’t get these, a lawyer may be able to help you obtain medical records.
8 Cited Research Articles
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- U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation. (2022, November 15). In Re: Hair Relaxer Products Liability Litigation. Memorandum in Support of Plaintiffs’ Motion for Transfer of Actions Pursuant To 28 U.S.C. § 1407 for Coordinated or Consolidated Pretrial Proceedings. Retrieved from https://www.aboutlawsuits.com/wp-content/uploads/2022-11-15-MDL-Motion.pdf
- Samuelson, K. (2022, November 14). Uterine fibroid growth activated by chemicals found in everyday products. Retrieved from https://news.northwestern.edu/stories/2022/11/uterine-fibroid-growth-activated-by-chemicals-found-in-everyday-products/
- U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois. (2022, November 3). Class Action Complaint. Retrieved from https://www.aboutlawsuits.com/wp-content/uploads/2022-11-3-darklovely-class-action.pdf
- Howard, J. (2022, October 24). US woman files lawsuit against L’Oréal, claiming chemical hair straightening products are linked to her cancer. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/2022/10/24/health/hair-straightening-products-lawsuit
- U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois. (2022, October 21). Mitchell v. L’Oreal USA, Inc. et al. Complaint. Retrieved from https://www.lawsuit-information-center.com/files/2022/10/Hair-Relaxer.pdf
- Chang, C-J et al. (2022, October 17). Use of Straighteners and Other Hair Products and Incident Uterine Cancer. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36245087/
- National Institute of Environmental Health Studies. (2019, December 4). Permanent Hair Dye and Straighteners May Increase Breast Cancer Risk. Retrieved from https://www.niehs.nih.gov/news/newsroom/releases/2019/december4/index.cfm
- Nazir, S. et al. (2018). Women Diagnosed with Endometriosis Show High Serum Levels of Diethyl Hexyl Phthalate. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6094529/