Can You Get Cancer from Hair Straighteners?

December 5, 2022

You May Be Able to Pursue a Hair Relaxer Cancer Lawsuit

If you frequently use hair straightener products, you may worry about what’s in them. You may have been wondering, Can you get cancer from hair straighteners? Your concerns may be well founded. There may be a danger of developing uterine cancer from use of hair relaxers. While the survival rate for this form of cancer is fairly high, it can be fatal. Treatment can also involve a hysterectomy, which is a life-changing surgery.

If you are a regular user of hair straighteners or relaxers and have uterine cancer, you may have a legal case.

To find out, you should speak with an attorney who handles cases involving product liability. A skilled lawyer can give you an honest assessment of whether you should proceed with a hair straightener cancer lawsuit.

Hair Straightening Chemicals Linked to Cancer

A recent study by scientists at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, called the Sister Study, collected data about cancer risks for women whose sisters had breast cancer. The study extended over a period of 6 years with over 50,000 women participants1. It sought participants from a diverse set of backgrounds, including a racially diverse cohort. The study examined many factors in the lives of the participants that may have led to cancer, including use of various hair care products.

In the course of that larger study, the researchers focused on close to 34,000 women between ages 35 and 74 to determine if there was a link between use of hair products and uterine cancer. They followed up with these women for 11 years to collect data over a longer period than the original Sister Study.

The researchers found that women who use hair straighteners had close to 3 times the likelihood of developing uterine cancer than those women who did not use these products.

That increased cancer rate is substantial and should raise an alarm among women who straighten their hair. The most frequent users of these products are Black women and, unsurprisingly, they have a higher rate of uterine cancer than other racial groups of women. If you used relaxers or straighteners, you may be at risk. It is important to understand there may be a hair straightener and uterine cancer link. You should immediately consult with your doctor if you believe you may have symptoms of cancer. If you have already been diagnosed with uterine cancer and have used hair relaxers, you should consult with an attorney to learn about legal options available to you.

Another cancer study examined the incidence of uterine cancer in American women. Researchers at the National Cancer Institute show that there was a substantial increase in aggressive forms of uterine cancer from 2000 to 2015. The rate of increase was even higher for Black women. For Black women, the rate of this type of uterine cancer was 25.9 per 100,000 women. This is significantly higher than the rate for Hispanic women (10.1), Asian/Pacific Islander women (7.5) and White women (11.4)2.

What Does All This Data About Hair Products and Cancer Mean to You?

Currently, there are several hair straightener and cancer lawsuits pending, and you may be able to pursue your own lawsuit. If you use this type of product and have uterine cancer, you should speak with an attorney to learn about your legal options. If you have a case, your attorney can pursue compensation you deserve in a product liability case. Our team at Wapner Newman is particularly well suited to take on a lawsuit like yours. We have the experience and skills needed to fight for the full amount of compensation possible in your case. Give our attorneys a call today at (215) 569-0900 to discuss your case.

What Does the Hair Straightener and Cancer Study Show?

The study shows there is a correlation between women who frequently use hair straightener and cancer. Among the general population of women, 1.4% get uterine cancer, but among women who use hair straightener products, that number is 4.3%3. This means the uterine cancer rate is more than double for women using hair straighteners. The researchers also examined the effects of other hair products for the women in the study. They found no correlation between uterine cancer and hair dyes or perms, but data does show a connection between use of hair dyes and breast and ovarian cancers.

Chemicals in hair straighteners that researchers found in the tissue of women with uterine cancer included parabens and phthalates. Use of products containing carcinogenic chemicals on the scalp can pose a higher risk than use of such products on the skin of other parts of the body. There is more absorption of chemicals through the skin of the scalp. In addition, use of hair straighteners can lead to burns or other skin injuries on the scalp, which allows the dangerous chemicals to be absorbed even faster.

Who Is at Risk of Developing Uterine Cancer from Use of Hair Straighteners?

Black Women Using Hair Relaxers Have Higher Risk of Uterine Cancer

The study showed that women who used these products with frequency showed the increased incidence of uterine cancer. That frequency of use is four or more times per year. Black women are the group who most commonly use hair straighteners, so they are more at risk than other women. However, any woman who uses these products at least four times per year has an increased chance of developing uterine cancer.

The impact of uterine cancer on a woman’s health can depend upon how quickly she seeks medical care and the level of care she receives. Unfortunately, studies have shown that racial and economic disparities can lead to worse outcomes for Black women than other racial groups after being diagnosed with cancer.

Should You Pursue a Hair Straightener and Uterine Cancer Lawsuit?

Product liability lawsuits are always complex and often require taking on companies with deep pockets and a deep bench of corporate lawyers. If you want to pursue a lawsuit, your first step should be to talk with an attorney who has experience with personal injury law and who understands product liability laws.

If you use hair straighteners and have uterine cancer, you may very well have good reason to proceed with a lawsuit; however, proving that hair straightener chemicals were the cause of your uterine cancer will be complicated. Your attorney will need to prove that negligent actions on the part of the manufacturer of the hair straightener led to your uterine cancer.

A successful lawsuit will require proving that the hair straightener chemicals caused your cancer and that the company selling the product should bear responsibility for the injuries you sustained.

Some, or all, of the below elements should apply to your situation to increase your chance of success in a hair straightener cancer lawsuit:

  • You have been diagnosed with uterine cancer.
  • You have used hair straightener at least four times a year for many years.
  • You have used hair straightener during and since adolescence.
  • You applied the hair straightener at home or had it applied in a salon.
  • You may have suffered scalp burns from use of the hair straightener.
  • You do not have a family history of uterine cancer.

Legal claims are already being made against companies that make hair straighteners, like one filed recently in Illinois4. It names multiple companies that make these hair products because the plaintiff used several brands over more than a decade, beginning with use in her adolescent years. Many Black women are in the same situation. They’ve used various brands of hair straighteners over the years, and the chemicals in any of them may cause uterine cancer.

How Our Attorneys Can Help You

If you believe you may have a legal case, call our attorneys at Wapner Newman so we can discuss your use of hair straightener and your cancer diagnosis. If your loved one died from uterine cancer and you believe the cancer was caused by hair straightener chemicals, you should also contact us. It is possible you could pursue a wrongful death claim.

Our team will gather all medical information needed to prove your case, and we can bring in expert witnesses to show how your cancer may have been caused by hair straightener chemicals. We will also compute the amount of losses you’ve suffered as a result of your uterine cancer. This assessment will not only include past and current medical bills, it will also include future medical costs and lost income, among other costs. We will aggressively pursue the full compensation possible in your hair straightener cancer lawsuit.

This type of legal case is complex, so it’s important for us to begin work as soon as possible. Call our attorneys today at (215) 569-0900 and we can get started.


1  National Institutes of Health. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Sister Study.

2  National Institutes of Health. Study Shows Incidence Rates of Aggressive Subtypes of Uterine Cancer Rising. May 22, 2019.

3 Che-Jung Chang, Katie O’Brien, Alexander P. Keil, et al. Use of Straighteners and Other Hair Products and Incident Uterine Cancer. Journal of the National Cancer Institute. October 17, 2022.

4 Julian Mark. She Was Diagnosed with Cancer at 28. Her Lawsuit Blames Hair Relaxers. Washington Post. October 27, 2022.