Last updated on August 8th, 2023
Chemical hair relaxers have been in use for over 100 years, but their effects on the body still aren’t completely understood. New research seems to suggest that there is a connection between frequent use of hair relaxers and uterine cancer (in particular, endometrial cancer). If this is the case, it could potentially affect millions of people.
Read on to see the latest on how hair relaxers and uterine cancer might be connected, and what you can do if you’ve been affected.
Uterine cancer is caused when malignant cells grow and multiply in or around the uterus. There are two different types of uterine cancer. Endometrial cancer accounts for 95-98% of all uterine cancers and uterine sarcoma makes up the remainder of cases.
Uterine cancer is the most common reproductive cancer. Approximately 3.1% of American women will develop uterine cancer during their lifetimes. It’s estimated that there will be 66,200 new cases diagnosed this year, and, if current statistics hold true, around 53,600 of those women will survive at least five years beyond their diagnosis.
Uterine cancer, as a whole, has a better survival rate than ovarian cancer, but it is still a very serious illness that requires prompt medical care for the best chance of success.
As mentioned above, endometrial cancer is by far the most common type of uterine cancer. The endometrium is the lining of the uterus, and endometrial cancer is caused when malignant cells form there. Those cells can then multiply and spread elsewhere in the body.
Uterine sarcoma happens when malignant cells grow in the muscle or the tissues that support the uterus. Although uterine sarcoma is less common, it is more likely to be deadly.
The symptoms of uterine cancer include:
Of course, these three symptoms can be caused by a variety of different reasons, so it is important to speak with your doctor as soon as possible if you have any of these concerns.
There are a number of ways that uterine cancer can be discovered. A pelvic examination, transvaginal ultrasound, or hysteroscopy are all methods that may be used. If cancer is suspected, a biopsy of uterine tissue may be taken.
The treatment of uterine cancer depends on how far the cancer has spread. It may include one or all of the following:
The cause of uterine or endometrial cancer is not yet known. Something happens within the body that causes a cell to mutate, and that cell multiplies. However, doctors are unsure what causes that initial cell to mutate.
There are certain risk factors that make it more likely that someone will develop uterine cancer. According to the Mayo Clinic, those include:
Hair relaxers are made up of multiple different chemicals, and some of those chemicals have been proven to be dangerous to humans. One of the main chemicals of concern is formaldehyde and formaldehyde-forming chemicals. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen and has been linked to reproductive and fertility problems.
A study done in 2022 found that people who have used hair relaxers four or more times per year have more than twice the risk of developing uterine cancer, in particular endometrial cancer than people who used hair relaxers less often or not at all.
If you’ve used hair relaxers and have uterine cancer, it’s natural to want answers and justice for what happened to you. There is currently a multidistrict litigation (MDL) looking into the link between hair relaxers and uterine cancer. There’s still time to join if you’ve been affected. Here are your next steps:
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