A new medical study has found that the chemicals in hair relaxers or straighteners can cause uterine cancer and other hormone-related conditions in women. Africa’s Best no-lye relaxer is one the more popular brands of hair relaxer, and it is manufactured by House of Cheatham, Inc. Hair relaxer lawsuits are being brought in all 50 states against House of Cheatham and other companies who sell chemical relaxer products. The lawsuits allege that relaxers such as Africa’s Best caused the plaintiffs to develop uterine cancer or other injuries.
This post will discuss the new medical evidence linking relaxers to uterine cancer and the lawsuits against House of Cheatham regarding Africa’s Best line of relaxer products.
Hair Relaxer Litigation September 2023 Update
Lawsuits against Africa’s Best and the other hair relaxer defendants are moving forward. The big development – and frustrating for many women – is the class action’s focus on cancer and not uterine fibroid lawsuits. Hair relaxer lawyers really believe in the cancer claims, but almost all – including us, frankly, have shied away from any hair relaxer claims that do not involve a cancer diagnosis.
The MDL class action is moving along nicely and our lawyers are as bullish as ever about the hair relaxer cancer litigation.
About Africa’s Best and Other Hair Relaxer Products
Hair straighteners or hair relaxers use chemicals to force curly hair to flatten down. African American women primarily use these products. An estimated 80% of Black women in the U.S. use hair relaxers, and most start using them when they are very young. The hair relaxer market in the U.S. is estimated at around $750 million per year.
There are many different types and brands of hair straightener products, including products meant for professional use at a salon and products made for use at home.
The process of using or applying a hair relaxer (referred to as getting a “perm”) requires the relaxer product to be applied to the root of the hair. Once applied, the product must sit or “cook” for a long time so that the chemicals in the product can break down the proteins in the hair, leaving it flat.
Africa’s Best is a line of hair care products that includes hair relaxers, conditioners, shampoos, and styling products. The brand is marketed toward people with natural, textured hair who want to straighten or relax.
House of Cheatham manufactures Africa’s Best line of hair relaxer products. House of Cheatham is headquartered in Georgia. It claims to be one of the oldest manufacturers of personal and beauty care products in the U.S.
It is one of the leading relaxer products on the U.S. market. It is sold at all major retailers, including CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens, Ulta, Amazon, and others. Africa’s Best is essentially the same as most other chemical straighteners, but it utilizes shea butter to help moisturize and protect the hair during the process.
The relaxers use a combination of ingredients, including calcium hydroxide and guanidine carbonate, among other chemicals, to break the disulfide bonds in the hair and alter its structure. The product is typically applied to hair that has been washed and dried, left on for some time, and then rinsed out.
Even before the hair relaxer lawsuits, some criticized Africa’s Best hair relaxers for their harsh chemical composition and potential for damaging hair. Some users reported experiencing hair breakage, scalp irritation, and other adverse effects.
The first lawsuit – at least what our lawyers think was the first lawsuit against Africa’s Best – was in 2017 in Johnson v. Africa’s Best. This hair relaxer lawsuit was filed in state court in California. The plaintiff in this lawsuit alleged that she suffered hair loss and scalp burns after using Africa’s Best Relaxer Creme.
But, to be fair, there are also many women happy with the product, evidenced by the fact that they keep using it when their are other options available.
Harmful Chemicals in Hair Relaxers
All hair relaxers or straightener products, including Africa’s Best, contain a hefty dose of very potent chemicals necessary to dismantle the protein structure of the hair follicles. The chemicals in hair relaxers include phthalates, parabens, bisphenol A (“BPA”), and diethanolamine. All of these chemical constituents are considered endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs).
The endocrine system produces hormones, such as estrogen, in women. EDCs are chemicals that disrupt the normal functioning of the endocrine system, resulting in hormonal imbalances. Most of these harmful chemicals are not listed on the ingredients label for hair relaxer products, but lab testing and clinical studies have repeatedly found that these chemicals are contained in relaxer products.
NIH Study Links Hair Relaxer Use to Uterine Cancer
Recent findings from the Sister Study – a large, diverse, ongoing prospective cohort study conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to investigate risk factors for breast cancer and other health conditions – show that women who used chemical hair straighteners and/or relaxers had a significantly higher risk of uterine cancer than those who did not. Importantly, the researchers found no such association with other hair products used by those women, including hair dye, bleach, highlights, or perms.
The uterine cancer risk increase associated with hair relaxer use is very significant. The study found that regular use of hair relaxers (4 times per year or more) increased the risk of developing uterine cancer by 150%. These recent findings are consistent with earlier studies showing an increase in hormone-related cancers in women using straighteners, including breast and ovarian cancer. The NIH Sister Study researchers previously found that permanent hair dye and straighteners might increase breast and ovarian cancer risk.
Africa’s Best Lawsuits
The recent findings of the NIH Sister Study, showing a link between the use of relaxers and uterine cancer, has generated a growing tide of hair relaxer product liability lawsuits against cosmetic companies such as House of Cheatham. These lawsuits are being filed by women who used Africa’s Best and other relaxer products for years and subsequently developed uterine cancer (or other related conditions such as endometriosis or uterine fibroids).
The hair relaxer plaintiffs allege that House of Cheatham and other cosmetic companies knew or should have known about the dangers posed by the chemicals in their products, specifically that they could increase the risk of uterine cancer. Now these companies are being accused of failing to warn about this risk or altering the design of their products to make them safer.
The hair relaxer lawsuits in federal courts have already been consolidated into a new class action MDL in the Northern District of Illinois.
Potential Settlement Value of Africa’s Best Lawsuits
It is important to understand that this value estimate is speculative. These are new lawsuits, and the causation evidence has yet to be tested in court. Therefore, our settlement projections are based on the huge assumption that the allegations in the lawsuits will be supported by causation evidence that will be admissible in court.
Value of Uterine Cancer Cases
Our hair relaxer attorneys believe that a successful Africa’s Best hair relaxer lawsuit involving uterine cancer as the primary injury could have a potential settlement value range of $300,000 to $1.75 million.
The reason that our value estimate range for uterine cancer cases is so broad is that uterine cancer cases can present dramatically different circumstances. If the plaintiff is older and has already gone through menopause, uterine cancer is not as tragic. By contrast, if you have a young plaintiff who loses her ability to have children, then the case is much different.
Value of Ovarian Cancer Cases
Our attorneys estimate that hair relaxer lawsuits involving ovarian cancer as the primary injury will have a settlement value of $400,000 to $750,000.
Contact Us About Filing an Africa’s Best Lawsuit
Our firm is currently investigating product liability cases alleging that chemicals in Africa’s Best hair relaxer cause cancer. If you think you qualify for a lawsuit involving chemical hair straightener, contact our office today for a free consultation at 800-553-8082 or get a free online consultation.