A new study found links between a common hair product and uterine cancer, a type of cancer that’s on the rise.
The research, published in The Journal of National Cancer Institute, found an indirect link between hair straighteners and uterine cancer. This type of cancer is more common among Black women, making this link all the more curious.
The study tracked over 34,000 women for more than a decade and found that women who frequently used hair straighteners had 4% more risk of developing uterine cancer. The study defined frequent users as women who used these products over four times in the previous year.
In previous years, hair straighteners have been linked with other types of cancer, such as ovarian and breast cancer. Hair products like bleach, perms, dyes, and more, didn’t report this link.
While all demographics were impacted by the use of straighteners, this statistic is more concerning for Black women, since 60% of them reported the use of these types of products.
“We don’t want to panic people,” said the study’s lead author Alexandra White to the New York Times. “One could make a decision to reduce this chemical exposure, but we also want to acknowledge that there is a lot of pressure on women, especially Black women, to have straight hair. It’s not an easy decision to not do this.”
Hair straighteners contain a variety of dangerous elements, among them metals, parabens, and formaldehyde, which may be absorbed via the scalp. The heat of the straightening procedure and the damage that this process can do to the scalp might make these risks greater.
Uterine cancer more likely to be diagnosed in women over the age of 45, but younger women are getting more and more diagnoses per generation. According to cancer.org, about 65,950 new cases of uterine cancer will be diagnosed by the year 2022.