*A new study has confirmed what many Black women have known for years — that lye-based hair relaxers may cause serious health effects, including breast cancer.
Here’s more from The Guardian:
Published in Oxford University’s Carcinogenesis Journal, the study found that Black women who used these products at least seven times a year for 15 or more years had a roughly 30% increased risk of developing breast cancer compared with more infrequent users.
The research team also analyzed survey data from Boston University’s Black Women’s Health Study, which followed more than 50,000 African American women for more than 25 years and observed their medical diagnoses and any factors that could influence their health. The results? Of the women followed from 1997 to 2017, 95% reported using lye-based relaxers, and ultimately 2,311 developed breast cancers.
As we previously reported, researchers warned women who chemically process their hair that permanent dye and chemical straighteners are linked to cancer.
A 2020 study published in the International Journal of Cancer found that women who used permanent hair dye or chemical straighteners were at higher risk of developing breast cancer.
“The association was notably higher among black women,” says epidemiologist Alexandra White, study author and an investigator with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
Hair products contain more than 5,000 chemicals, according to researchers.
“For the chemical straighteners one of the big concerns there is formaldehyde, which is a known carcinogen,” said White. She notes that the popular Brazilian keratin treatments, commonly called a Brazilian blowout, contains formaldehyde, and earlier hair straightening treatments did not.
“I think it’s important for women, particularly African American women, not to panic every time a study comes out,” said Dr. Doris Browne, a medical oncologist and former president of the National Medical Association. “But it should raise questions for our primary care providers.”
Browne suggests doctors and patients discuss the health risks of hair products like dyes and straighteners.