Hair Straightening Chemicals Increase Risk of Uterine Cancer


by Iqra Zafar

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A recent study revealed the association between hair straightening chemicals and an increased risk of uterine cancer. This study was conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. The observations of the study reported the harmful side effects of chemicals used in the hair straightening process including its risk in the causation of uterine cancer in women. 

Before this, other studies linked hair straightening chemicals to the increased risk of hormonal cancers such as breast cancer and ovarian cancer. Now, this recent study established the link between straightening product chemicals and uterine cancer. The study included 33497 female participants aged from 35-74 years.

The study was led by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and the participants were observed for 11 years. During the observational periods, almost 378 cases of uterine cancer were reported in female participants. 

The study outcomes estimate that the risk of uterine cancer development was significantly higher in females who use hair straightening products as compared to those who don’t. The risk of uterine cancer was two times increased in the females who frequently use hair straightening products.


Talking on this, Alexandra White, lead author and Head of the NIEHS Environment and Epidemiology group said, “We estimated that 1.64% of women who never used hair straighteners would go on to develop uterine cancer by the age of 70; but for frequent users, that risk goes up to 4.05%,”

“This doubling rate is concerning. However, it is important to put this information into context - uterine cancer is a relatively rare type of cancer.” White added. Researchers also suggested that several chemicals might be contributors to uterine cancer in females including parabens, bisphenol A, metals, and formaldehyde. However, no specific products were identified during the study.

“To our knowledge, this is the first epidemiologic study that examined the relationship between straightener use and uterine cancer,” said White. She also said, “More research is needed to confirm these findings in different populations, to determine if hair products contribute to health disparities in uterine cancer, and to identify the specific chemicals that may be increasing the risk of cancers in women.”