According to new evidence from NIH, chemical hair relaxers can cause ovarian cancer. The research suggests that the chemicals in hair relaxers and hair straightener products disrupt the endocrine system and increase the risk of ovarian and other hormone-related cancers. If you used a hair relaxer for many years and were later diagnosed with ovarian cancer, you may be able to file a hair relaxer lawsuit against the product manufacturers.
Our national product liability attorneys are now accepting potential new hair relaxer ovarian cancer cases. If you are interested in filing a hair relaxer lawsuit, contact our office today at 800-553-8082 or get a free online consultation.
About Hair Relaxers and Straighteners
Also known as “hair perm” or “straightener,” hair relaxer is a chemical, cosmetic product used chiefly by Black women to make their hair flat and straight. Women who use hair relaxers typically apply the product every 6-8 weeks at home or in a salon. The product is applied to the hair roots and left to sit or “cook” while chemicals in the product attack the hair’s protein structure.
Hair relaxers use a strong mix of potent chemicals, including phthalates. Phthalates are a group of artificial chemicals originally developed in plastics and later incorporated into many cosmetics and personal care products. In lab animal studies, exposure to phthalates has been associated with disrupting the endocrine system, which produces hormones such as estrogen. When absorbed into the body, phthalates can either mimic or block female hormones or suppress the hormones involved in male sexual development.
Ovarian cancer originates in the female ovaries (the reproductive organs that release eggs). Ovarian cancer is not very common. It accounts for around 1% of new cancer cases, with an estimated 19,000 new cases projected in 2023. This equates to about 10.6 out of 100,000 women receiving an ovarian cancer diagnosis yearly, resulting in a death rate of 6.3 per 100,000 women and a survival rate of 49.7%.
Although ovarian cancer rates have decreased overall in the United States due to increased exposure to oral contraceptives, Black women have the lowest survival rate at each stage and across all subtypes. Recent research by the Sister Study – which we will talk more about in a moment – revealed that frequent use of chemical hair straighteners/relaxers in the previous year (defined as more than four times per year) could almost double the risk of ovarian cancer compared to never using them.
The study did not have enough power to detect differences based on race/ethnicity. But it is not hard to speculate based on these other statistics.
One of the big reasons for this low survival rate is that ovarian cancer is frequently not diagnosed until it reaches later stages.
Only 20% of ovarian cancer cases are diagnosed with Stage 1. Ovarian cancer often has minimal symptoms early on, so most cases are not diagnosed until the cancer has already spread.
Using Hair Relaxer Can Cause Ovarian Cancer
A research team at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has been conducting a major long-term study on the potential risk factors for female cancers for over a decade. The “Sister Study” Sister Study” has grown to over 33,000 participants.
As the Sister Study has progressed, the research team has made some significant findings. In 2021, some of these preliminary findings from the Sister Study were published in the journal Carcinogenesis.
This article discussed the part of the Sister Study research that assessed whether endocrine disruptive chemicals in hair relaxers can be absorbed into the bloodstream and cause ovarian cancer. The study results outlined in the article showed that the risk of ovarian cancer approximately doubled in women who reported frequent use of hair relaxer products. Frequent use was defined as more than four times per year. The article concluded that using hair relaxers frequently can increase ovarian cancer risk by 50%.
The study has some limitations because it was not structured to account for differences based on race or ethnicity, although among Black women, the ovarian cancer hazard ratios were elevated for every use of hair relaxers or perms. Further, the researchers noted that “given the much higher prevalence of use of these products, the impact of these results is more relevant for African American/Black women.”
Hair Relaxer Class Action Lawsuit
The emergence of new evidence connecting chemical hair relaxer products to ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, and other health conditions has prompted victims to file product liability lawsuits. Women nationwide are filing hair relaxer lawsuits against the cosmetic companies that manufacture these products.
These lawsuits are being brought by women who have used hair straighteners for many years and were diagnosed with ovarian cancer or other hormone-sensitive cancers such as uterine cancer. The defendants in these cases are cosmetic companies who develop, manufacture and sell chemical hair relaxers. The biggest hair relaxer manufacturer is LÓreal. Loreal is the largest cosmetics company in the world. LÓreal owns the SoftSheen-Carson line of hair relaxers, including popular brands such as Dark & Lovely and Optimum.
The hair relaxer product liability lawsuits in federal courts are centralized into a new hair relaxer class action MDL. This means there will be a process of consolidated discovery for all federal court cases in Chicago, followed by bellwether test trials. Most class action MDLs end in a global settlement.
Potential Settlement Amounts of a Hair Relaxer Ovarian Cancer Lawsuit
Settlement value estimates at this stage are purely speculative. The scientific evidence underlying the legal claims in these cases is new and has yet to be tested in court. For this reason, our value estimates are based on some very major assumptions about the future success of these cases.
Our product liability attorneys believe a successful hair relaxer settlement will likely be in the $400,000 to $750,000 average range. This is higher than our settlement value estimates for uterine fibroid cases but slightly lower than our settlement estimate for uterine cancer cases.
Why is our projected ovarian cancer settlement payouts lower than uterine cancer? That could change. But the current state of the science is that causation evidence linking ovarian cancer to hair relaxers is good but not quite as overwhelming as the evidence for uterine cancer. We don’t want to blow smoke here, we want to tell you what we think. So this is the primary reason we lowered our valuation for ovarian cancer cases. But the comparison distracts from the larger point – we believe the settlement compensation for a hair relaxer ovarian cancer lawsuit will be high.
Keep in mind we are talking about putting an average settlement figure on a global settlement. The trial payout for a successful ovarian cancer lawsuit will likely be millions of dollars.
- Expected settlement payouts for hair straightener lawsuits generally
Example Ovarian Cancer Hair Relaxer Lawsuit
A Louisiana woman filed a lawsuit on March 22, 2023, alleging that her ovarian cancer was caused by her exposure to phthalates and other endocrine disrupting chemicals found in hair care products manufactured by the defendants. She first used the products in 1986, around the age of 10, and continued to use them until 2022. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in April 2021 and underwent a total hysterectomy and chemotherapy treatments.
The woman’s suit claims that the defendant companies, L’Oréal USA, Inc., L’Oréal USA Products, Inc., Soft Sheen Carson, LLC, Godrej Son Holdings, Inc., Namaste Laboratories, LLC, Dabur USA, Ltd., and Dabur International, Ltd., were negligent and engaged in wrongful conduct in connection with the design, development, manufacture, testing, packaging, promotion, marketing, distribution, labeling, and sale of the chemical hair straightening products, including Dark & Lovely and ORS Olive Oil. The lawsuit alleges that there was never any warning on the product packaging or otherwise indicating that the normal use of the products could cause harm, including the development of ovarian cancer.
Contact Us About Filing a Hair Relaxer Ovarian Cancer Lawsuit
Our firm is investigating product liability cases alleging that chemicals in hair perm and hair relaxer products caused ovarian cancer. If you used a chemical hair straightener and were later diagnosed with ovarian cancer, contact our office today for a free consultation at 800-553-8082 or get a free online consultation.