On October 17, 2022, the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (JNCI) published a study exploring the unknown dangers of using chemical hair straighteners (also known as hair relaxers). The study found that frequent use of chemical hair straighteners (the study defines “frequent” as at least four times over the course of twelve months) led to a greater likelihood of developing uterine cancer. A few days after the study was published, Jenny Mitchell, a 32-year-old Missouri resident, filed a lawsuit against several beauty companies, including L’Oreal.
Uterine cancer causes the cells of the uterus’s inner lining or muscle tissue to grow uncontrollably. The only treatment is a hysterectomy (the surgical removal of the uterus); sadly, it is not possible to have children after a hysterectomy. Advanced cases of uterine cancer also require chemotherapy. Symptoms of this cancer include bleeding between periods, bleeding after menopause, and pain in the pelvis.
The plaintiff was diagnosed with uterine cancer on August 10, 2018, and she underwent a full hysterectomy on September 28, 2018, at the Boone Hospital Center in Missouri. She used hair straightening products for over two decades, beginning in 2000 when she was eight years old, and only stopping use in March 2022. Her family has no history of cancer.
Alongside Mitchell, several other women have filed lawsuits against L’Oreal and other companies. Rugieyatu Bhonopha, 39, and Rhonda Terrell, 55, were diagnosed with uterine cancer and underwent total hysterectomies and chemotherapy. Bernadette Gordon, 49, used hair straighteners for over 30 years and developed both uterine cancer and breast cancer. She underwent a hysterectomy, a double mastectomy, and months of chemotherapy. Approximately 40 affected women have filed lawsuits, which may be consolidated into a class action lawsuit for a single judge to oversee.
The study published by the JNCI also discusses the disproportionate use of hair straighteners by African American women compared to white women. African American women only made up 7.4% of the study’s participants, but they made up 59.9% of the women in the sample who had ever used hair straightening products. These products are specifically targeted toward black women who are pressured to try to abide by Eurocentric beauty standards. Since more African American women use hair straighteners than white women, the finding that chemical hair straighteners increase the chance of developing uterine cancer disproportionately harms black women.
People that used L’Oreal and other hair straightening products that developed cancer or have suffered from any of the below conditions after frequently applying chemical hair straighteners to their hair and scalp may have legal rights and may be eligible for monetary compensation. The New Jersey law firm of Davis, Saperstein & Salomon, P.C. has a mass tort team of attorneys with decades of experience handling harmful products and class action cases. The firm offers free and confidential case evaluations and are available 24/7. Contact them today by calling 201-444-4444. More information can be found on their website at www.dsslaw.com.
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