Hair Relaxers Won’t Raise Black Women’s Cancer Risk

By Robert Preidt
HealthDay reporter

WEDNESDAY, May 26, 2021 (HealthDay News) – Moderate use of hair straighteners does not increase a black woman’s risk of breast cancer, according to a new study.

“Although there is a biological plausibility that exposure to certain components in hair straighteners could increase the risk of breast cancer, the evidence from epidemiological studies to date remains inconsistent,” said the lead author. Kimberly Bertrand, epidemiologist and assistant professor at the Boston University School of Medicine.

While the overall risk of breast cancer is the same for black women and white women in the United States, black women have higher rates of aggressive subtypes.

These include estrogen receptor negative (ER-) tumors, which are diagnosed at a younger age and are more fatal, according to the study’s background notes.

Certain hair care products, including hair straighteners / straighteners, are more often used by black women. These products may contain estrogen or endocrine disruptors, but the link between their use and breast cancer risk is unclear.


To find out more, the researchers analyzed data from a major US study on the health of black women launched in 1995.

They compared breast cancer in women who reported moderate or heavy use of hair straighteners to those who reported little or no use of the products. The study found no association between the use of a hair straightener and the overall risk of breast cancer.

“Overall, our results are generally reassuring: we found no clear evidence that the use of a hair straightener is associated with breast cancer risk for most women,” Bertrand said in a statement. university press.

She added that there was evidence, however, that the heaviest users of laundry products – those who used them at least seven times a year for 15 years or more – had an increased risk of about 30%. estrogen receptor positive (ER +) breast cancer.

More research is needed to learn more about the possible link between the use of certain hair straighteners and breast cancer risk, Bertrand concluded.

The results were recently published online in the journal Carcinogenesis.


More information

The Environmental Working Group has more on hair straighteners.

SOURCE: Boston University, press release, May 24, 2021

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