Our law firm is helping victims who want to file a hair relaxer lawsuit. This page is about chemical hair straighteners causing breast cancer. Our attorneys are assisting breast cancer victims in all 50 states.
Chemical hair relaxer (also known as “hair perm”) products are regularly used by many African American women in the U.S. Recent medical studies have now revealed that the chemicals in these products can cause breast cancer. Product liability lawsuits are now being filed by women who used hair relaxer for years and later developed breast cancer.
Chemical Hair Relaxers
Women of African heritage used hair relaxer products such as Dark & Lovely, to make their hair straight and force it to lay flat. Hair relaxers accomplish this with a mix of strong chemicals that break down the protein structure of the hair.
Virtually all hair relaxer products contain chemicals called phthalates. Phthalates often called “plasticizers” are unique chemicals that can add strength and durability to certain types of pliable plastics. Phthalates are frequently utilized in cosmetic products. Phthalates are endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs). EDCs are chemicals that interfere with the body’s endocrine system which is responsible for producing hormones.
Hair relaxer products contain a phthalate called Di-2- ethyl hexyl phthalate (“DEHP”). DEHP is considered a carcinogen and it is known to cause significant adverse-health effects including endometriosis, developmental abnormalities, reproductive dysfunction and infertility, and various cancers.
Chemicals in Hair Relaxer Can Cause Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women and it impacts all races and ethnicities. However, statistics show that African American women get breast cancer much earlier and in much more aggressive forms. The result is that Black women have the highest rates of death due to breast cancer.
A growing body of scientific research is showing that breast cancer is associated with chronic exposure to DEHP and other EDC chemicals contained in hair relaxer products. Studies have shown a link between breast cancer and long-term and regular exposure to EDCs in hair relaxer products.
A recent study, published in the Carcinogenesis Journal by Oxford University, concluded that Black women who used lye-based relaxers at least seven times a year for over 15 years or more had around a 30 percent increased risk of developing breast cancer, compared with those who used it less frequently. Patricia F. Coogan et al., Hair product use and breast cancer incidence in the Black Women’s Health Study, Carcinogenesis, Vol. 42, Issue 7 (July 2021) 924–930
Another study in the May 2021 edition of the International Journal of Cancer demonstrated a positive correlation between increased breast cancer risk and adolescent use of hair products that modify hair texture, specifically hair straighteners, perms, and hair dye in black women in the U.S. The frequency of use is associated with a higher risk of premenopausal breast cancer. Alexander J. White et al., Adolescent use of hair dyes, straighteners and perms about breast cancer risk, Int’l J. of Cancer, Vol. 148(9):2255-2263 (2021).
A 2017 landmark study demonstrated that the increased risk of breast cancer appears to have a direct correlation to DEHP, the EDC found in all hair relaxer products. The study established that DEHP activates certain estrogen receptors that increase the proliferation of breast cancer cells.
Hair Relaxer Linked to Uterine Cancer and Other Diseases
In addition to breast cancer, recent scientific evidence has shown that long-term exposure to the chemicals in hair relaxer is directly associated with an increased risk of uterine cancer and several other hormone-related diseases and health conditions. A breakthrough study in the October 2022 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found a 100% increase in the risk of uterine cancer among women who regularly used hair relaxer.
Uterine fibroids (non-cancerous tumors that form in the uterus) have also been associated with exposure to chemicals in hair relaxer products. A 2012 study in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that women who regularly used hair relaxer products displayed a significantly increased risk of developing uterine fibroids.
The use of hair relaxer has also been linked to an increased risk of endometriosis, a condition in which uterine tissue abnormally grows outside the uterus and often causes female infertility. A collection of medical studies have established that DEHP exposure increases the risk of endometriosis by increasing the production of certain cells that lead to the condition.
Hair Relaxer Breast Cancer Lawsuits
In October 2022, the first hair relaxer cancer lawsuit was filed against Loreal and several other cosmetic companies. The lawsuit (Mitchell v. LÓreal, et al. – 1:22-cv-5815) was filed in federal court in the Northern District of Illinois. The plaintiff, Jenny Mitchell, alleges that she developed uterine cancer at age 28 from exposure to chemicals in the hair relaxer products that she began using at age 10.
- This is the first of what could potentially be thousands of future hair relaxer product liability lawsuits. The scientific evidence linking chemical hair relaxer to uterine cancer, breast cancer, and other conditions is strong enough that this may become the next major mass tort in the U.S.
Potential Settlement Value of Hair Relaxer Breast Cancer Lawsuits
Estimating the possible settlement value of hair relaxer breast cancer lawsuits is extremely premature at this point. These cases are still being filed and the strength of the causation evidence has not been tested in court.
If we assume that the scientific evidence will withstand legal challenges and be admissible in court, however, we can offer a reasonable estimate as to the potential value of breast cancer hair relaxer lawsuits. Our lawyers believe that a strong breast cancer case could have a potential settlement payout between $180,000 to $750,000. This is somewhat lower than our estimated value for hair relaxer cases involving uterine cancer because the causation argument in breast cancer cases will be harder.
Hair Relaxer Breast Cancer Lawsuit
Our firm is currently investigating product liability cases alleging that chemicals in hair perm and hair relaxer products cause cancer. We are not currently taking hair relaxer breast cancer cases. We may soon. What are our lawyers waiting for? We are waiting for clear, unambiguous science that shows that the chemicals in hair relaxers cause breast cancer.