Hair relaxer users have been shown in a recent study to have a significantly increased chance of developing uterine cancer. Some people found the report alarming, but for others, like 32-year-old Jenniffer Mitchell from Missouri, it provided an answer.
Mitchell’s uterine cancer was discovered in 2018, at the age of 28; her uterus and cervix were removed, and she lost the capacity to bear children. There was no history of cancer in her family. For her, the inability to bear her own children has been “the hardest thing that I’ve ever had to deal with,” she shared on Good Morning America.
Mitchell, like many Black women, began having her hair relaxed when she was 10 years old and in the third grade. She didn’t connect her continuous use of hair relaxers after her diagnosis until March 2022. She has filed a lawsuit against L’Oreal and four other producers of hair relaxers.
In a statement, her lawyer Ben Crump said, “We represent many, many other women who are coming forward now as they understand the revelations of these scientific results that suggest there is a correlation between the use of chemical relaxers and uterine cancer.” He went on to say that many of these women are women of color, and more especially Black women, who use relaxers owing to societal constraints and also because of marketing by firms with techniques that specifically target Black women.
So yet, no major companies have voluntarily removed any chemical items off sale, but we will continue to monitor this situation closely as more information becomes available.