Study Links Hair Relaxers To Fibroid Tumors and Early Puberty In African American Females



A new study in the American Journal of Epidemiology has linked hair relaxers to uterine fibroids, as well as early puberty in young girls.

Scientists followed more than 23,000 pre-menopausal Black American women from 1997 to 2009 and found that the two- to three-times higher rate of fibroids among black women may be linked to chemical exposure through scalp lesions and burns resulting from relaxers.

Women who got their first menstrual period before the age of 10 were also more likely to have uterine fibroids, and early menstruation may result from hair products black girls are using, according to a separate study published in the Annals of Epidemiology last summer.

Three hundred African American, African Caribbean, Hispanic, and White women in New York City were studied. The women’s first menstrual period varied anywhere from age 8 to age 19, but African Americans, who were more likely to use straightening and relaxers hair oils, also reached menarche earlier than other racial/ethnic groups.

While so far, there is only an association rather than a cause and effect relationship between relaxers, fibroid tumors, and puberty, many experts have been quick to point out that the hair care industry isn’t regulated by the FDA, meaning that there’s no definite way to fully know just how harmful standard Black hair care products really are.

Fibroid Facts

Fibroids are tumors that grow in the uterus. They are benign, which means they are not cancerous, and are made up of muscle fibers. Fibroids can be as small as a pea and can grow as large as a melon. It is estimated that 20-50% of women have, or will have, fibroids at some time in

via article > New Study Links Relaxers To Fibroids.

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166 Responses to Study Links Hair Relaxers To Fibroid Tumors and Early Puberty In African American Females

  1. blkgalusa February 22, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    Thank God I never put any of this poison in my hair…I am into to natural hair..But I totally believe that this is the cause of a lot of medical problems.

  2. DeepEntity February 23, 2012 at 7:18 am

    I f it ain’t Johnson’s baby powder or HPV it’s now, Hair Relaxer’s. No, maybe it’s the High rate of Herpes. maybe it’s the Alcohol drinks, cigarettes, water, or the high colesterol foods. All the money we give these scientist and that’s the best they can think is the cause of Fibroid cancer.

    • keiat February 24, 2012 at 2:19 am

      DeepEntity, look at the chemicals in relaxers. Do you really think that people can put that stuff on their skin, the biggest organ in your body, and not have adverse and long term effects? Everything you just named can be linked to a known health condition, including drinking water in many places (linked to high incidences of prostate cancer in men in areas with high birth control pill usage in women). And the fact that black women are three times as likely to perm their hair than other nationalities strongly suggests that the perm is the cause of the fibroid tumors.

  3. Kim Frazier February 23, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    Did the study also account for women growing up in single parent homes. If a woman grows up in a home without a “father” she is more likely to begin puberty very early, also.

    • Anansa February 23, 2012 at 5:20 pm

      That’s a stretch! Me, my sisters, my mother and grandmother were all were raised in two-parent households and started our periods in our teens. I also had a relaxer very early and am without those troubles. Perhaps the fibroids have to do with the amount of stress, anxiety and improper release of s****l energy gathering in the pelvic region.

    • Ann February 24, 2012 at 4:41 am

      You can’t be serious. Social status and household demographic has NOTHING to do with the biological maturation of ones body…My God I am sick of society trying to pin the tail on single even make this comment is just stupid….. Development is comprised of genetics, and biological makeup, not based off of external factors such as social existance…

  4. Sheilia February 23, 2012 at 5:10 pm


  5. WOW February 23, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    So, if you don’t have a father in the household you will get your period earlier than girls who have a father in the household??? I am confused! I lived in a house with both parents with four (4) sisters and we all got our period at different times in our lives…. Still CONFUSED! What does the father being there have to do with periods???? Where is the science in that?????

  6. erycka February 23, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    I grew-up with both parents in the household and started puberty at the age of 8 and didn’t have my first relaxer til age 10. I don’t believe in this theory but as a license stylist, I have got to research this.

  7. Anonymous February 23, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    This study did not look at early puberty. It only looked at uterine fibroids as an outcome.

  8. Lady A February 23, 2012 at 6:45 pm

    My friend and I both have been diagnosed with fibroid. So we have been researching them. Studies show they are more common in African-American and Asian women. On reason could be too much estrogen. Which we have discovered SOY can produce in the body. Soy in the US is almost like the corn here, it’s in everything. I got my period at 11. But I never had a relaxer previous to that. My father was always in my life. But just because something isn’t true for everybody doesnt mean it isn’t ONE of the causes.. .. I have been working on naturally healing fibroids. You can find out more on what we’re doing at:

    • andrea February 23, 2012 at 8:31 pm

      Thank you some one with common since

      • Tonya February 23, 2012 at 10:31 pm

        Yes, I agree. This is the only comment/entry that makes sense.

    • Belinda W Bey February 24, 2012 at 5:51 am

      Interesting study. I was diagnosed with very large uterine fibroids and with some changes to my diet and getting appropriate nutrition they have started shrinking and the ovarian cyst i had are already gone. I don’t know about the relaxer link to fibroids but those are some pretty harsh chemicals I’m sure they do lead to something.

    • K Park February 24, 2012 at 3:48 pm

      Great response, Lady A. I wholeheartedly agree! It’s the food and how it is produced. From the xenoestrogens in the corn feed fed to cows…to the way our veggies are fertilized. Eating organic has helped me tremendously.

  9. andrea February 23, 2012 at 8:29 pm

    Wh really believes that, u know. It came from white people smdh so where. Did white women get them from. Tanning trying to look. Black.

  10. LaToya February 23, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    In my opinion, I believe the early puberty has to do with all the hormones put into our foods. Everything you eat now has added hormones, chicken, veggies, fruits etc. African American women have been using hair straighter for years and I truly don’t believe it has anything to do with starting puberty early.

    • Lady A February 24, 2012 at 1:41 am

      I agree. Especially with the meat. Hormones and steroids that are given to animals gets in our bodies as we consume it. Did you know Americans eat the most meat? So no wonder we have the highest obesity rate. Not only do we each too much meat but we are getting it filled with things that make us bigger. Thats why if you have to have meat try to go to Trade Joes or some where that has hormone free meat and dairy.

  11. Chelsea Marie Kolstee February 23, 2012 at 11:22 pm

    “Wh really believes that, u know. It came from white people smdh so where. Did white women get them from. Tanning trying to look. Black.”
    That sounds sooooo ignorant. I mean, Fibroid Tumors are not contagious, it just freaking happens. Go to school and learn some grammar, punctuation and spelling.

  12. Cheyenne February 24, 2012 at 12:38 am

    The white college students that choose to study African American women receive grants for these studies. Sometimes they finish the study, sometimes not. It would be good of their studies were proofed by black researchers and then published. I tend to think these studies are biased and attention seeking. The study did not consult women who have used relaxers for 20 years or more and results on their reproductive organs.

    • Laughing February 24, 2012 at 12:42 am

      @Chelsea Marie Kolstee…I always find it very comical when a poster writes, “Go to school and learn some grammar, punctuation and spelling” as you did and their post (such as yours) is full of grammatical errors, spelling and punctuation challenges. Comedy, my dear…pure comedy. You make yourself appear inept and one to be dismissed. Ha! Thanks for the laugh this evening. It has been a long day and I needed some comic relief. (P.S. Check my sentences and verb/noun conjugation very carefully. Let us know if you find any errors as your type always does.) Ha!

  13. Laughing February 24, 2012 at 12:41 am

    @Chelsea Marie Kolstee…I always find it very comical when a poster writes, “Go to school and learn some grammar, punctuation and spelling” as you did and their post (such as yours) is full of grammatical errors, spelling and punctuation challenges. Comedy, my dear…pure comedy. You make yourself appear inept and one to be dismissed. Ha! Thanks for the laugh this evening. It has been a long day and I needed some comic relief. (P.S. Check my sentences and verb/noun conjucation very carefully. Let us know if you find any errors as your type always does.) Ha!

  14. Joi February 24, 2012 at 3:11 am

    I think what’s not being said is that some of this relaxers do have things like placenta in them, which of course does contain estrogen. Where do these placentas come from? Cows? Are these the same cows that are fed hormones to increase estrogen to constantly produce milk even after there is no baby? Is this what we are putting on our hair and skin and consuming as food?

    • Tashya Tyler May 2, 2012 at 1:12 pm

      Relaxers have wheat protein in them– they do not contain placenta. Concentrated protein treatments have placenta in them and it is an abstract from humans. It only penetrates the cuticle and cortex layers of the hair creating a layer to reinforce and stop breakage. We do not use that treatment on the same day as the service because of the irritation to the scalp. It is beneficial to use more plant derived products during the chemical service. Your point is valid though.

      • brenda brooks May 13, 2012 at 12:50 am

        U all really make me ever so proud… the constructive dialog shared here… was just as absent as the internet back in my day! Ur knowledge of the body, foods, and relaxer ingredients; really touches the contours of my heart. Be gentle with those whom express before clarity has set in, it maybe the excitement generated from Ur heart(s) speaking knowledge and understanding. I lost several children due to large fibroid tumors resting on the placenta(s). I was semi-vegetarian, had a harmonious family life, had relaxed hair at various stages of my life… I did not get to speak with such mindful people as yourselves. Today, I’m preparing to enjoy the 2 children and 2 grandsons and my 82 year old MoM for Mother’s Day! There is a 16 yrs. difference between my daughter and son – plus a lot road traveled… with deepest appreciation – I pray U continue to share and enjoy Ur Mothers Day tomorrow. ( note: although I’m educated from a prestigious college, based on a verbal interview… I still have spelling, punctuation and grammatical issues… I get sooo excited and wanna share too!)

  15. Nikki February 24, 2012 at 3:45 am

    An smart response from someone! Thank You!

  16. e February 24, 2012 at 4:13 am

    you cant have honestly thought putting that bullshit in your hair wasnt having adverse effects on you.
    youre serious right?
    like, people are still perming in this day in age?

  17. susan February 24, 2012 at 5:05 am

    At the risk of sounding like a hit dog, what is this link? What is the science? And where’s the direct report from the American Journal of Epidemiology? All they’re saying is that women who are black (who also happen to perm their hair) are more likely to develop fibroids. If they found a link after a study of fibroids in black women who permed their hair most of their lives vs black women that did not–THEN i would believe there was a link. From my (limited) understanding of fibroids, the “cause” is processed food (esp. hormone injected meat) ramping up the estrogen levels in a woman’s body. This is misinformation in my opinion.

  18. Dannette February 24, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    This article is light on details. I’d like to know more about the actual studies being referenced. I also believe the foods we eat influence both the fibroids and the early puberty. But, I DO NOT need convincing that smearing those chemicals on your scalp for years causes adverse health effects. I mean, come on.

  19. Ahimsa Porter Sumchai, MD February 24, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    This is an association…it is not a cause! The link could be to being burned on the scalp as easily as it could be to toxins in the relaxer. I developed fibroids at age 35 and had worn my hair in a natural most of my life. It is important to understand the concept of spurious associations. Two events can be linked but not causative.

    • Lauren June 9, 2013 at 10:41 pm

      Smartest comment I’ve read yet on this page. Junk science alert.

  20. Sydney D. February 24, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    Some of these responses are quite ridiculous. I am writing a dissertation about this topic with particular emphasis on African American women and their experiences with fibroids. First, people need to try to see the validity in the information, rather than taking it defensively and retaliating; calling it stupid or simply stating that there is no link. Like Ahimsa stated, this is a correlational link, not causational. It is quite difficult to make a causational claim and would take controlling for very many variables to unquestionably state that relaxers cause fibroids. However, with that in mind, research like this also provides avenues for further discovery. Simply shooting down ideas such as socioeconomic status or hormonal links doesn’t answer the question, which is to pin point the etiology of fibroid development. Moreover, when doing research like this, we are looking for which factors have a stronger correlation to increased risk of fibroids. So for instance, if socioeconomic status is negatively correlated with fibroids, then sufficed to say women in lower social classes have more fibroids. We can then began to look at lifestyle differences between the groups. Taking this hypothesis a step further we might be able to see that those with lower economic status have greater access to food with high amounts of hormone filled foods (meats, dairy with estrogen, etc.) and those hormones are linked to the increase in fibroid prevalence or size, or whatever, while their access to more natural ingredients are stifled. Then we can find the the link between socioeconomic status, hormonal intake, and fibroid prevelance, once again pinpointing other factors linked to fibroids. So, next time when you read articles reviewing the findings of studies of this natural, it would help to try to see the larger picture rather than comparing its results to your particular situation. This is not to say your experiences are not relevant, but perhaps simply are not transferable to a larger majority of the population/group understudy. Just food for thought.

    • Sydney D. February 24, 2012 at 6:09 pm

      Oh yea, for those who noted the importance of race/ethicity of the researcher, I am an African American woman, studying fibroids, trying to obtain grants for this purpose.

      • Allikat February 25, 2012 at 1:12 am

        I tried to look up the original article that this was based on and I haven’t been able to access the full article, however the abstract showed that they used pretty sound stats, but they used multivariate regression just to figure out the ratio of relaxer users vs. non users had uterine fibroids. This is problematic because in the general population, those who tend not to get their hair relaxed also may have a different lifestyle than those who don’t, so it really doesn’t tell us anything about the relationship between relaxers and fibroids except that there may be different lifestyle profiles for those who have fibroids vs. those that don’t. Its kinda like saying that folks with large houses tend to be richer. Large houses don’t cause someone to be rich, but rather they can be part of the lifestyle profile of a rich person. The authors were very honest about not inferring causality. They state that their findings merely “raise the hypothesis” that those who use relaxers could be more at risk for fibroids. Frankly, their findings are so preliminary that folks really can’t take it very seriously. The authors were pretty clear about that, but the problem is that once folks take a piece of science and without really reading it or understanding the scientific methods behind it, they run away with the their own interpretation of the findings. Its always good to refer back to the original research article and see whats really up before running away with a sensational story. OK, nerdy girl signing out…

  21. Brian Reed February 24, 2012 at 7:15 pm

    I am very disappointed that it seem quite a few people do not uderstand that the chemicals that come in contact with your skin is being absorbed and having an adverse effect on our health. Just because it didn’t affect you does not make it false. These comments must have been like the one they were having at the popes court thinking the world was flat. The moon has a direct affect on the earth and it does not come into contact with the earth. So it is possible for a man proximity to women that it may have an affect them in some way. Women in close proximity tend to cycle around the same time so it would be understandable that a father proximity to his daughter would have some affect.


    But we die to be beautiful

    • Lady A February 29, 2012 at 11:22 am

      good point

  22. Khalid February 25, 2012 at 5:19 am

    I always thought it was fried chicken..

  23. Mildred Cynthia Huffman February 26, 2012 at 2:53 am

    Well back in the 1970′s I had them and my doctor told me that mine came from having too many children close together. So there could be other extenuating factors for uterine tumors besides hair products. And I lived with my aunt and uncle and I started when I was 9. And development involves genetics, and environmental factors much like the nature vs. nurture debate.

  24. Stephanie February 26, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    Here are links to the journal. The article DOES NOT APPEAR IN THE ISSUES CITED. Nor could I find ANY article stating this.

    We don’t agree in perming young kids hair and I’m natuaral but putting out FALSE information to our people has to STOP! You are no better that the “SYPHYLLIS STUDY” if you give information you do not know to be correct.

  25. Stephanie February 26, 2012 at 10:16 pm

    Disclaimer (BLM) is a urban gossip and entertainment news site which publishes rumors speculation, assumptions, in addition to accurately reported facts. Information on this site may or may not be true and BLM makes no warranty as to the validity of such claims. The owner of this site does not insure the accurateness of any content on BLM. BLM makes no warranty as to the validity of any claims.


    • Cheyenne February 28, 2012 at 12:47 am

      Thx Stepanie. It pays to read the fine print. I
      called the Hair care companies asked them to comment.
      I would advise all to do the same. After all this sounds political in nature.
      There were no remarks about fibroids from 1948 thru 1996 and the study ended the with a hypothesis. I think they were studying these women for hidden reasons. FYI all persons born ’65 on, your blood has been stored and Analyzed.
      Many women went from the hot comb to the relaxer in the late sixties, not to emulate white women but to manage our hair more
      efficiently. We have used this product for 100 years so they need to 100 year data. I called the hair care companies and asked for their comments.
      White women’s perms do have cancer causing agents. Black hair dye and red lipstick also. FYI 5 sisters/father in home, all started our cycles from age 10 to 13. Father had nothing to do
      with it! Thx Stephanie for printing BLM disclaimer. My conclusion-this report not credible.

  26. Denise Boutte February 27, 2012 at 2:34 am

    I wonder how many of the pesons studied had daily caffeine consumed. I believe this was a major factor vs. the relaxers. How many never permed their hair or was any of these females selected? Why just NY, bring in the Southern ladies.

  27. Ava February 27, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    For those insterested in the causal link between the early onset of menarche (first menstrual cycle) and girls growing up in fatherless homes, here are links referencing the study:

  28. AB February 28, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    Back to the hot comb and curling iron for straight hair I guess!

  29. Marcus February 28, 2012 at 9:21 pm

    Much like the tobacco industry, which denied for years the mounting body of evidence that smoking caused cancer and emphysema, the global $300 billion cosmetics industry argues that toxic ingredients are absorbed in such small amounts they have no dangerous effect.

    Read more:

    Whether we want to belive it or not, this news is something to seriously think about.

    Unregulated by the Food and Drug Administration? how dare they. But then again, black folks are pretty much who use these products huh.


  30. Peter D.Slaughter February 29, 2012 at 1:16 am

    For years black females have been warned about using these unknowned cheap chemicals.The koreans who run these hair chemical shops will sell a black person anything.A % of black females say ” I’s don;t like my hair nappy ” ” reminds me to much of my granny who nappy hair.But they seem to forget,that their granny lived a very long time without breast cancer,vaginal cancer and lung cancer from smoking weed and nasty cigarettes and blunts.So wake up and spread the word,stop using the madness.

  31. haircarepro March 2, 2012 at 11:24 pm

    Improperly used chemicals can have the greatest risk for adverse reactions. Home chemical products should be banned and only professionally trained beauty professionals should be allowed access to apply.

  32. Viola March 18, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    A black doctor noticed that on autopsies of Black women, that a green chemical residue was present underneath their scalps, due to the use of relaxer products.

  33. Tashya Tyler May 2, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    I really don’t believe that is it. I am a licensed Cosmetologist and relaxers are too diverse to say make that statement. There are some very toxic relaxer products out there; however, most professional products with proper application are proven to be non toxic to humans such as the relaxers containing guanidine hydroxide. Calcium Hydroxide which is sold in local convenience stores are very toxic and they do become a lye product after you take it home and mix it. Now about the fibroid tumors and the early menstruation, an entire generation of black females from my family who were raised before relaxers were used on black women suffered from both of those ailments. I was pre-chemically treated and have none of those conditions–I do suffer from hair loss. This is why I am against relaxing pre adolescent children. Men were the first in the black community to use the relaxer, in the form of the ‘Kunk’/'Cunk’. There is no connection to relaxers and fibroid tumors, but there is a connection to black women, fibroid tumors, and early puberty. It is also a known fact that most black women chemically relax their hair. I say, “JUST STOP IT”! The language used was not even technical enough to me to suggest that they had even done a study. What was the name of the relaxer chemical used on the experimental group and how large was the control group? This experiment is still in the hypothesis stage. I say, “there were not enough women in the control group for the experiment to be valid”. Common sense–”In what remote village did experimenters find 16,500 black women in 1997 who had NEVER been chemically treated?” Half of the women they followed had to be in the control group/ NEVER been chemically treated. I would have to view the notes of the entire experimental process before believing this source. Also……”What was the name of the scientific group that did the study?” Check your source and “Do your research”. I am a licensed Cosmetologist with over 25 years of experience in the black women’s, hair, life, and health. These conditions existed in our community long before the epidemic of poor chemical processing. I do acknowledge that there is an issue with all of these factors in our community but they are isolated and should not be linked. Also, there is not a chemical agent that cause hormonal changes which is also necessary for the growth of tumors and early puberty. CHECK THE CHICKEN! It’s in the diet. Relaxer chemicals and applications have improved in the black salon but all clients should be allowed the option to be natural or relaxed. These services are to be performed by licensed Cosmetologists and the chemicals should not be handled by non professionals. These chemicals change the PH balance and can be harmful if improperly used. These are two separate issues facing our community and should be treated as such. Thank you for reading and do your research.

  34. Tashya Tyler May 2, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    Correction—The relaxer product has to contain a hormone like estrogen in order to cause the growth of……

  35. audresha May 11, 2012 at 3:25 am

    i jus got a relaxer friday and im a black 12 year old girl :”)

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  38. Lauren June 9, 2013 at 10:51 pm

    I won’t deny that the media do a great service.

    But sometimes, low quality articles are written and sensationalized just to get a reaction from people. More clicks = more page views = more money for the writer. That means it’s important to be able to filter through stories properly.

    I think it’s important for the average person to be able to recognize things such as: junk science, pop psychology, alarmist nonsense and just plain hose manure.

    This article falls into the “junk science” and “alarmist” categories. People, please understand the difference between correlation and causation. And at least wait until a study is peer-reviewed and that the results have been duplicated by other scientists before just believing what you read.

    I admit this is a hot story, and it falls closely to what folks are already thinking is probably true. But that doesn’t make it so. And I say this as someone who hasn’t relaxed her hair in over 10 years.

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  44. Theodora Anagor December 17, 2013 at 7:16 am

    I had huge fibroids and I used to to relax my hair vociferously, after my operation I stopped relaxing my hair and they have not come back, you don’t have to use chemicals to straighten your hair., or you wear your hair naturally.

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