The term uterine cancer refers to two types of cancer: endometrial cancer and uterine sarcoma. The former is common while the latter is rare.
Endometrial cancer develops in the inner lining of the uterus and affects the reproductive system. Uterine sarcoma develops in the myometrium, which is the muscle wall of the uterus.
Treatment for uterine cancer often involves removing the uterus via a hysterectomy.
If you regularly use chemical hair straighteners, you need to pay attention, as several studies have shown there may be a link between some of the chemical relaxers used in hair straightening and uterine cancer.
Let’s take a look at the most recent study that examined the link between uterine cancer and hair-straightening chemical relaxers.
Published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute in October 2022, a study by researchers at the U.S. National Institutes of Health found that women who use chemical straighteners and relaxers may be at a higher risk of developing uterine cancer.
The researchers looked at data from over 33,000 women who took part in the Sister Study, which is an ongoing study that looks for risk factors associated with breast cancer and other health conditions.
When the women first enrolled in the study, they gave information about the different kinds of hair products they had used over the last year, including straighteners and relaxers.
Following up after a period of eleven years, it was found that women who had reported using certain chemical hair straightening products were almost twice as likely to have developed uterine cancer in comparison to those who didn’t use the products.
Furthermore, the researchers looking at the study’s uterine cancer risk statistics discovered that the women who reported frequent use of straighteners were approximately two and a half times more likely to develop uterine cancer.
Out of the 33,497 participants, 378 cases of uterine cancer diagnosis were found.
Out of the participants who didn’t use straighteners, only 1.64% developed uterine cancer by the age of 70. Out of the participants who used straighteners and relaxers frequently, 4.05% developed uterine cancer by the age of 70.
Several studies have indicated that black women are diagnosed with uterine cancer at a higher rate than any other race.
In the U.S. National Institutes of Health study, it was found that 60% of the women who reported using straighteners and relaxers over the previous year self-identified as being black.
The study didn’t find that any link between uterine cancer and straightener use was different by race. But because many more black women use straighteners and relaxers than women of other races, they are at a higher risk of developing uterine cancer from straightener use.
Furthermore, a study from 2010, published by the Environmental Health Perspective, showed that black women have greater levels of phthalates and parabens, due to their use of straighteners and relaxers.
The study reported that the findings went some way to explaining why black women have higher rates and more aggressive forms of endometrial and breast cancers compared to women of other races.
While it is concerning that, from the U.S. National Institutes of Health study results, only 1.64% of women who never use hair straighteners develop uterine cancer by the age of 70, and 4.05% of women who do use straighteners go on to develop uterine cancer by that age, it’s important to remember that uterine cancer is still an uncommon cancer.
Furthermore, it’s important to remember that the study hasn’t proven that using some chemical relaxers causes uterine cancer. Further studies need to be performed for confirmation.
However, it does look likely that frequent use of chemical hair straighteners can increase the risk of uterine cancer.
So, the next time you change your hairstyle, you might want to consider straightening your hair in a way that doesn’t involve chemicals.