In a significant health and safety initiative, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has proposed a ban on the use of formaldehyde in chemical hair-relaxing products. This decision emerges in response to studies revealing a heightened risk of uterine, ovarian, and endometrial cancer among women who frequently use these products.
Formaldehyde, as described by the Environmental Protection Agency, is a colorless and flammable gas that poses health risks upon exposure. This chemical becomes particularly hazardous when heated in hair-straightening products, releasing harmful gas into the air.
A 2022 study by the National Institutes of Health has shed light on the disproportionate impact of these risks on Black women, citing their higher usage rates of these products. According to the study, women who reported frequent use of hair relaxers had more than double the likelihood of developing uterine cancer compared to those who did not use these products.
UT Health Oncology Nurse Practitioner, Brice King, explains, “Formaldehyde can interfere with hormone regulation in the body and when it’s used on the scalp, there’s increased absorption.” However, King notes that while formaldehyde is a known risk factor, other chemicals in hair relaxers may also contribute to these cancer risks.
At Hairspray Family Salon in Flint, hairstylist Chelsea Anderson has avoided offering hair relaxer services. “I thought it was a very harsh chemical... I would get a chemical burn. I would notice that my hair was thinning,” Anderson shared. Instead, she promotes chemical-free alternatives like smoothing treatments and silk-press services.
MarQuita Erwin, a hairstylist at HG Studio Day Spa in Tyler, echoed similar sentiments but recognized the challenge in changing client preferences. “You have those ones that’s used to getting relaxers. And that comes from back in the day,” Erwin stated.
The proposed ban, targeting a completion date in April 2024, could be a pivotal moment for the beauty industry and consumer health. It may encourage a shift towards more natural hair care practices and greater awareness of the potential dangers of chemical hair products.
At Cannata, Hendele & Cannata, LLP, we closely monitor these developments to protect the rights and health of those potentially affected by harmful beauty products. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with uterine cancer, endometrial cancer, or ovarian cancer after using chemical hair relaxers, we are here to provide guidance and legal support.
Contact Cannata, Hendele & Cannata, LLP for a free, confidential case evaluation. Our experienced team is committed to advocating for your health and safety in the face of potentially harmful beauty products.