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A Missouri woman recently announced that she is suing L’Oréal and co., claiming that their hair straightening products increase the risk of uterine cancer for women.
Represented by civil rights attorney Ben Crump, the lawyer who represented the family of George Floyd, and Diandra “Fu” Debrosse Zimmermann, 32-year-old Jenny Mitchell said in her lawsuit that her uterine cancer was a direct result of the chemicals from the hair care products.
Due to the makeup of these chemical hair straighteners, she said that her hormones, including her endocrine levels, were imbalanced, according to the lawsuit.
According to CNN, at a news conference, Mitchell revealed that the first time she started using hair straightening products, such as hair relaxers, was when she was eight years old. Despite having no family history of cancer, in 2018, she was told that she had uterine cancer, according to the lawsuit, and, just a month later, she got a full hysterectomy. She continued to use the hair products until March 2022.
“Black women have long been the victims of dangerous products specifically marketed to them,” said Crump in a statement. “Black hair has been and always will be beautiful, but Black women have been told they have to use these products to meet society’s standards.”
“We will likely discover that Ms. Mitchell’s tragic case is one of countless cases in which companies aggressively misled black women to increase their profits,” he added.
Mitchell’s lawsuit came shortly after the release of a new study released by the National Institute of Health’s National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences analyzed the hazards of chemical hair products on women.
The study looked at the data of 33,947 Sister Study uterine cancer patients, ranging from ages 35 to 74, reported to them through a questionnaire they handed to the participants. In their results, the researchers found that the link between uterine cancer and hair straightening products was evident amongst Black women; although only 7.4% of the patients involved in the study were Black women, Black women made up 59.9% of the participants who reported using a chemical hair straightener.
The focus on finding causes behind uterine cancer amongst Black women comes after it was reported that this specific type of cancer is on the rise for them. According to a report released by the National Cancer Institute in May, each year, the rate of women across all races and ethnicities who pass away from uterine cancer is growing by 1.8% each year.
The mortality rate for Black women with uterine cancer is more than twice that of the overall rate.