Skip to main content

According to a new study by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, relaxers and other chemical straightening methods and treatments raise the risk of breast, ovarian, and uterine cancer. Breast cancer is the most often diagnosed kind of cancer in women, and the journey may be emotionally exhausting for any woman. The use of relaxers is more prevalent in women of color, and frequency of use may have a price. Studies found that women who use chemical hair straighteners at least every five to eight weeks are about 30% more likely to develop breast cancer. 

Many women of color have varying degrees of curly or kinky hair. Some of these women opt for chemical hair straightening to make their hair more manageable or to conform to certain beauty standards. Chemical straightening came as an alternative to the previous modes of hair straightening such as flat ironing and the ancient hot comb due to its convenience.

The hair straightening market was valued at USD 5.51 billion in 2021, according to Market Data Forecast. This amount should not come as a surprise, since about 70% of women of color straighten their hair. A lot of these women have been using these chemical straighteners from an early age in an attempt to fit in with their straight-haired counterparts. Even in the workplace, research has shown that natural hair can be seen as unprofessional. This is due to an expectation that hair should be straight as opposed to the way women of color’s natural hair grows.

So what can be done to reduce this risk? The best thing we can do is to avoid these chemicals altogether. According to Dale Sander, chief of the NIEHS Epidemiology Branch, “We are exposed to many things that could potentially contribute to breast cancer; avoiding these chemicals might be one thing we can do to reduce the risk of breast cancer.” This may not be possible for all women but reducing the frequency of the usage of these chemicals will help reduce the risk to an extent.

In spite of all this, there is some good news. The times are changing as more and more women of color embrace their natural hair texture with the aim of untangling the negativity associated with natural hair. This is an exciting and welcome change because women should feel confident with how they came into the world and feel free to appear as they are.

Let us know your thoughts, would you consider eliminating the use of these hair products and going natural? Or if going cold turkey is not an option, would you consider reducing your frequency of use?

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: