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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There are 187 comments for this article
  1. Bea Smitty at 4:45 am

    Fibroids are caused by excess estrogen. Women are getting excess synthetic estrogen or xenoestrogens from chemicals in products

  2. Felicia Welch-Reevers at 3:02 am

    I personally would not begin, or end, my usage of relaxers based on this "non-information". The article cites a couple of studies with a minimal amount of meaningless data, but what stands out the most is, "many experts have been quick to point out that the hair care industry isn’t regulated by the FDA" – that sums it all up for ME. I would not at all be surprised at "new" regulations and/or licensing fees for the Black hair care industry or salon owners/operators.

  3. Atalaya SoMisunderstood at 5:28 pm

    Why are people acting as if the article says "perms are the only cause of early puberty and fibroids". That is NOT what it says. "So far, there is only an association rather than a cause and effect relationship". If you want to perm it up, then do so, it's your body. But if anything thinks that putting that harsh chemical on your (or your kid(s) head) is risk free then they are fooling themselves. You don't have to "buy" the results of this study, but are quick to "buy" the illusion that your natural hair looks bad. . .

  4. Nakira Hollis at 2:41 pm

    Let's face the facts. Even if it was proven that there were 1000 different health issues caused or made worse by relaxers people who do not feel comfortable with their natural hair will get relaxers and defend them to the death.

  5. Karen London at 3:54 pm

    I think that the fibroids and all that is related to the foods we eat. That relaxer study is too inconclusive to say that it is the cause. Healthy eating habits, yoga and strength training stopped painful menstruation for me. I don't get any of the discomfort and no fibroids.

  6. Joy I. Allen at 4:45 pm

    The comments on this page are very interesting. It's sad that this is such a divisive topic. Putting corrosive chemicals in and on your body is dangerous and no one in their right mind condones it. But if said chemical is a "beauty" product, then you're considered judgmental when you state obvious dangers and suggest one not to use it. Many processed foods, which is highly regulated by the FDA, are put on the market and contain deadly cancer causing chemicals and hormones despite regulation. Cosmetics have little to no regulation. How much more chemical and hormonal dangers do you think would be in unregulated products? Please wake up:…/The-515-Chemicals-Women…

  7. True Asiatic at 12:32 am

    Can't do natural hair?!?! What did our ancestors do for thousands of years before we were told our hair was too nappy and ugly….Why can men do natural hair, if some people just CAN'T do natural hair….Why is the fact that someone who does hair for 22 years mean you are the authority on health and effects. We have poor diets and all sorts of diseases we KNOW are associated with the food cooked by Chefs who've been cooking for 22+ years… I'm sure many would defend their overly salted, processed, overly sauced cuisine (that may be popular and delicious to the diners) that all that is bunk! I know you study chemicals, mixtures, and formulas in your profession (my ex-owned a salon and was a colorist for Goldwell) ….Have you ever worn gloves in your 22 years??!! WHY?!? You may do many heads and the chemicals you use would pose a health risk if you didn't wear gloves at times, common sense should tell you all that if a woman who gets treatments done on the regular (perms, coloring/tints/highlights, and other treatments) weekly/monthly…It is doses (high or low) of chemical poisoning….and this is done in the name of vanity not health….Can you Karen , as a professional, say the above findings have NO merit what-so-ever? There are NO (absolutely NONE) long-term adverse effects associated with chemical use (even being properly applied)? I'm not questioning you as the Stylist, I'm questioning the PRODUCTS (applied by professionals)? I know also that I am asking you as a business owner to admit your PRODUCTS may pose a health risk, which may have a adverse effect on your income (which is not my intention)…so if you choose not to answer I understand (sincerely, no harm, no foul), but others in the know feel free to chime in!!!!

  8. Sybil Satterfield at 12:45 am

    Karen Owens anything you put on your skin is absorbed into the skin – without regard for pH. If the lye was so pH neutral, why does it burn the skin when left on too long?

  9. Sybil Satterfield at 12:48 am

    It seem that Karen Owens is pushing her won agenda while accusing others of doing just that thing. Maybe she can tell us why cosmetologist get respiratory diseases after years of inhaling those fumes . . .

  10. True Asiatic at 2:39 am

    …and everyone who smoked didn't get lung cancer….there are no absolutes….If you question one aspect that may not apply to you…then you must question every study on every drug and chemical on the market today because the good or ill effects will not apply to someone….It would be a bit obtuse not to recognize that beyond the individual, there is a reason for warnings and protective measures (eyes and other parts of the body) on these chemicals and colorings……Constant use of household bleach is linked to cancer, Microwave/Cellular/PC exposure, Stress/Depression/Fear, Canned & chemically processed food and drinks, living/working near high tension wires, near Nuclear facilities, chemically treated vegetables and fruits, cancer festers in a high acidic body/blood pH (diet)….add a bit of them all and no wonder we suffer from fibroids, cancers, tumors, strokes, alzheimer's, lupus, diabetes….most will end up with multiple dis-eases. We are sold a bill of goods about genetically predisposed to ____. Yes, a very small minority of us may be genetically dis-eased, but you best believe the vast majority is because we've inherited our parent's habits/diet and the food is MORE processed, more hormonal, more microwaved, the salon business has exploded since our Mother's and Grandmother's Era….more heads getting done by more chemicals more often (remember Jheri Curls…what was the pH of that crap, Finger Waves with the women beating the heads cause they can't scratch, not all them gels were water based)….Point being, it's not JUST about getting hair done with chemicals or not, it's about a healthy wholistic mind-state.

  11. Reeree Nmnavant at 7:33 pm

    I disagree. I believe that the reason that it is easy to link relaxed hair with relaxers is because those studies were done during a time that the average African American woman wore relaxers, so I would say it's just a coincidence . It is a proven fact that the African American community has the highest rate of most illness, so do we link that to permed hair? I say fibroid is a result of stress. I myself had regular yearly paps up until one if the most stressful times during my life. Upon during research, a high percentage of woman whether African American or Caucasian women attributed the fibroids to a stressful period in life. I believe that. If you think about it, African American women being the backbone of the family are the most stressed out species on earth. Not to mention, having to do much more to survive. So, I do believe that the study would show that most of the women who were studied did have perms, however, I know it wasn't the relaxer that caused my issue. If stress can kill, I am pretty sure that it can cause numerous ailments, hence the reason why our community as a whole has the highest rates of everything. In addition, I believe that poor diets, and lifestyle also adds to the fire of our community's high rate of issues.

    I can go on and on with this one, but I will stop. I will sum it up by saying that I disagree with the study. Not because my hair is relaxed, but because I know my own body.

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