NIH study: Chemical hair-straightening may increase uterine cancer risk

A new National Institutes of Health study has found a link between uterine cancer and chemical hair-straightening product use. This suggests that more frequent users might be at greater risk.

The study was published Monday. It tracked 33,947 women of different races between 35 and 74 years for an average of about 11 years. The study included 378 women who developed uterine cancer.

Alexandra White, a study leader at the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Safety, explained that while we estimated that 1.64% of women would develop uterine carcinoma by age 70, the risk for those who use hair straighteners regularly is 4.05%.

This could be due to the presence of the endocrine-disrupting chemical in hair straighteners. The ability of endocrine system to regulate hormones may be affected by phthalates, parabens, and fragrances.

Studies in the past have shown that endocrine disruptors are associated with higher rates of breast and ovarian carcinoma.

After taking into account other risk factors, the new study revealed that women who used chemical straightening products four or more times per year had a two-and-a-half-time higher chance of developing uterine carcinoma.

“However, this information needs to be understood in context. White stated that uterine cancer is a rare form of cancer.

Researchers also found that a lower frequency of hair straightening in the last year was associated with a higher risk of developing uterine cancer. However, the difference in risk was not statistically significant. This could be due to chance.

Researchers at NIEHS concluded that while uterine cancer and hair straightener use did not differ by race or gender, Black women are more likely to be at risk.

Che-Jung Chang, NIEHS, stated that Black women tend to use relaxers or hair straighteners more often than other races and age groups. These findings could be more relevant to them.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that uterine cancer is the most prevalent gynecologic disease in the United States. Although it is rare, it’s more common than cervical cancer or ovarian cancer.

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