Chemical hair relaxer (also known as hair straightener) is a product used by millions of African American women. New medical research now shows that chronic exposure to the chemicals in hair relaxer products disrupts the hormone system and leads to an increased risk of uterine cancer. Product liability lawsuits are now being brought against cosmetic companies by women who used hair relaxers for years and developed uterine cancer.
The product liability lawyers at Miller & Zois are now seeking cases from women who used chemical hair relaxers or hair straighteners on a regular basis for a minimum of 5 years and were subsequently diagnosed with uterine cancer. Contact us about a hair relaxer lawsuit today.
About Chemical Hair Relaxer
Hair relaxer or hair straightener has been around since the early 1900s and is mostly used by women of African descent to force their hair to lay flat and make it more manageable. Hair relaxers achieve this result by using a strong mix of chemicals that break down the protein structure of the hair.
Hair relaxer contains chemicals known as phthalates. Phthalates are a family of chemicals that are used to add durability and other properties to certain types of pliable plastics. They are often called “plasticizers” and they are commonly found in various cosmetic products. Phthalates are known to be endocrine-disrupting chemicals (“EDCs”). EDCs are chemicals that significantly disrupt or impact the endocrine system, which is responsible for the production of hormones inside the body.
A phthalate chemical called Di-2- ethylhexylphthalate (“DEHP”) can be found in almost all hair relaxer products. DEHP is not a naturally occurring chemical. It is synthetically produced and biologically toxic. DEHP is considered a probable human carcinogen and chronic exposure to DEHP has been linked to other health conditions including reproductive dysfunction and developmental abnormalities.
Chemicals in Hair Relaxer Linked to Uterus Cancer
Groundbreaking new medical evidence has recently been released which shows that long term exposure to the chemicals in hair relaxer products can significantly increase the risk of uterine cancer.
Uterine cancer (cancer of the uterus) is one of the top 5 most common cancers among women. In the U.S., around 65,000 new cases of uterine cancer are diagnosed each year, which equates to 3.5% of all cancer cases. The incidence rate of uterine cancer among women of African descent is twice as high compared to white women in the U.S.
The Journal of the National Cancer Institute published the results of a groundbreaking new study in October 2022 on the association between hair relaxers and female reproductive cancers. The study examined the 10-year incidence rate of cancer among women who regularly used hair relaxers compared to women who never used hair relaxers.
The results of the study were compelling. The women who used hair relaxers were more than twice as likely to develop uterine cancer compared to those who did not use relaxers. More significantly, the highest incidence rate for uterine cancer was among those women who reported using hair relaxers the most frequently. This suggested a direct correlation between exposure to hair relaxers and uterine cancer. The study marked the first direct epidemiologic evidence of the causal link between hair relaxer use and uterine cancer.
Hair Relaxer Cancer Lawsuits
Publication of the new study linking chemical hair relaxer use to uterine cancer was soon followed by a product liability lawsuit (Mitchell v. L’Oreal, et al. – 1:22-cv-5815) against several cosmetic companies claiming that their hair relaxer caused uterine cancer. The hair relaxer lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago by Jenny Mitchell.
Mitchell is a resident of Missouri who used chemical hair relaxers her entire adult life. Mitchell first started using hair relaxer at age 10 and continued to use it (either at home or at a salon) every 2 months for the next 18 years. Mitchell was diagnosed with uterine cancer in 2018. She was just 28 years old at the time of her diagnosis.
Mitchell’s lawsuit is the first of what could potentially be thousands of new hair relaxer cancer lawsuits that could be filed against cosmetic companies in the years to come. These product liability lawsuits will allege that the cosmetic manufacturers knew, or should have known, that the chemicals in their products were associated with an increased risk of uterine cancer.
Estimated Settlement Payout Value of Hair Relaxer Cancer Lawsuits
At this point, nobody can say for sure how much hair relaxer uterine cancer lawsuits could be worth in terms of a settlement. These lawsuits are just now getting filed and the scientific evidence on causation has yet to be tested in court.
If we assume that these cases will in fact hold up in court, however, we can make a preliminary estimate about the possible settlement value. Our lawyers believe that a solid hair relaxer uterine cancer case could have a potential settlement payout value of $400,000 to $1,750,000. Certain cases, particularly those involving plaintiffs who were very young at the time of their cancer diagnosis, could be worth much more.
Contact Us About a Hair Relaxer Cancer Lawsuit
Our lawyers are currently seeking product liability cases alleging that chemicals in hair relaxer products caused uterine cancer. If you were diagnosed with uterine cancer after years of regularly using chemical hair relaxer, contact our office today for a free consultation.