October 18, 2022 — Women who use hair straightening chemicals may be at increased risk of uterine cancer, according to a new study from the National Institutes of Health.
Women who use straightening products more than four times a year have the highest risk of developing uterine cancer. according to the study. Specifically, the researchers found that women who used smoothing or relaxing products more than four times a year were more than twice as likely to develop uterine cancer as those who did not use these products.
The study’s lead author, Alexandra White, PhD, said about 1.64% of women who don’t use hair-straightening chemicals develop uterine cancer before age 70. year. But for frequent users of these products, this risk can reach 4.05%.
“This double rate is concerning,” she said. But “it’s important to put this information into context,” she noted, because “uterine cancer is a relatively rare type of cancer.”
Previous research has linked the use of hair products, such as hair dye, to increased risks of other hormone-sensitive cancers such as breast cancer. But the researchers believe this is the first analysis that has looked at the use of hair straighteners in relation to uterine cancer.
The study examined the use of hair products and the incidence of uterine cancer over an 11-year period in 33,947 women ranging in age from 35 to 70 years. The analysis controlled for variables such as age, race and risk factors.
Uterine cancer is the ninth most common type of cancer in the United States, according to the National Cancer Institute, with more than 65,000 new cases diagnosed each year. More than 12,000 deaths are caused each year by cancer of the uterus.
Use of hair-straightening products was more common among women with low physical activity and among African-American women, according to the study.
“Because black women use hair straightening or straightening products more frequently and tend to start using them at an earlier age than other races and ethnicities, these results may be even more relevant to them,” said said Che-Jung Chang, PhD, one of the study’s authors. , in a report.
The study was funded by the National Institute of Health and National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Intramural Research Program and was published Monday in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.