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Can Chemical Hair Straighteners Cause Cancer? Understanding the Risks

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Chemical hair straighteners are popular products sold in stores and hair salons across the United States. But, they are also dangerous. Over the past few years, there have been several reports of these products being linked to users’ cancer diagnoses, and companies like Just for Me, L’Oreal, Optimum Care, Revlon and Soft Sheen are currently facing lawsuits related to the health risks associated with their chemical hair straightening products.

As reported by The New York Times:

“Chemical hair straighteners have been associated with an increased risk of uterine cancer, breast cancer and ovarian cancer — especially for Black women. The longer and more frequently you use these straighteners, the greater your risk for cancer may potentially be.”

Anyone who is diagnosed with cancer after using a chemical hair straightening product for any length of time should talk to a lawyer about filing a chemical hair straightener lawsuit. All forms of cancer can lead to significant financial and non-financial costs, and hiring a lawyer to seek just compensation on your behalf can be critical for managing these costs long-term.

Types of Cancer Linked to Chemical Hair Straighteners

As noted by The New York Times, chemical hair straighteners have primarily been linked to three forms of cancer: breast cancer, ovarian cancer and uterine cancer. Here is a look at the symptoms and prognoses associated with each of these conditions:

Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is a type of cancer that specifically affects the cells in the breast tissue. It is among the most common forms of cancer diagnosed in the United States—making it important to tell your doctor if you have used a chemical hair straightener so that your doctor can determine if this may be the cause of your condition.


Breast cancer can have a variety of symptoms. The symptoms of breast cancer may develop quickly or gradually, and individuals who develop breast cancer may or may not experience all symptoms. With this in mind, symptoms of breast cancer include:

  • A lump or thickened area of skin on the breast
  • Changes in color of the breast skin (usually pink, red or purple)
  • Changes in the shape or size of the breast
  • Skin that is flaking, peeling or scaling
  • Skin that looks dimpled


According to the Mayo Clinic, “[b]reast cancer survival rates have been increasing. . . . [a]nd the number of people dying of breast cancer is steadily going down.” The National Cancer Institute reports that breast cancer has a five-year survival rate of 91.2 percent, though breast cancer still accounts for 6.9 percent of all cancer-related deaths in the United States.

For individuals living with breast cancer, managing their diagnosis can be a time-intensive and lifelong process. Regular testing and treatment may be necessary; and, in some cases, a mastectomy will be required as well. Additionally, like all forms of cancer, breast cancer never fully goes away. Even when treatment results in remission, breast cancer can return; and, as the American Cancer Society explains, “[i]f cancer does return, your treatment options will depend on where it comes back, what treatments you’ve had before, and your current health and preferences.”

Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer affects the ovaries in the female reproductive system. As the Mayo Clinic explains, “[o]varian cancer is a growth of cells that forms in the ovaries. . . . [t]he cells multiply quickly and can invade and destroy healthy body tissue.”


Ovarian cancer can also have a variety of symptoms; and, like breast cancer, individuals who have developed ovarian cancer after using a chemical hair straightener may experience some or all of these symptoms as their cancer progresses. The Mayo Clinic recommends seeing a doctor if you are concerned about any of the following:

  • Abdominal swelling or bloating
  • Changes in bowel or bladder habits
  • Pelvic discomfort
  • Quickly feeling full when eating
  • Unexplained weight loss, back pain or fatigue


Due to the way that ovarian cancer develops, it has a much higher mortality rate than breast cancer. The Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance reports that, “about 78% of those with ovarian cancer live for at least 1 year after diagnosis. More than 60% live for at least 3 years after being diagnosed, and over 50% of patients with ovarian cancer are still alive at least 5 years after diagnosis.” Similar to breast cancer (and many other forms of cancer), living with ovarian cancer can impact your daily life in a variety of ways—and the financial and non-financial costs make it important to file a lawsuit if you are entitled to just compensation from a company that sold you  a dangerous chemical hair straightening product.

Uterine Cancer

Uterine cancer affects the uterus in the female reproductive system. Due to its symptoms, uterine cancer is often among the easier forms of cancer to detect; however, this does not necessarily mean that its consequences are any less severe.


As outlined by the Mayo Clinic, uterine cancer has three primary symptoms: (i) vaginal bleeding after menopause; (ii) bleeding between periods; and, (iii) pelvic pain.


The National Cancer Institute reports that uterine cancer has a five-year survival rate of 80.8 percent, and uterine cancer accounts for just 2.2 percent of all cancer-related deaths. However, treatment often involves undergoing a hysterectomy (often in combination with radiation therapy), which is a surgical procedure during which the uterus is removed. As the Mayo Clinic explains, “[t]reatment also usually includes the removal of the fallopian tubes and ovaries . . . [a] hysterectomy makes it impossible for you to become pregnant in the future . . . [and] once your ovaries are removed, you’ll experience menopause if you haven’t already.”

Do You Have a Claim for Cancer Caused by a Chemical Hair Straightener? Find Out for Free

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with cancer after using a chemical hair straightening product, we strongly encourage you to speak with one of our lawyers about your (or your family’s) legal rights. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation at Searcy Denney, please call 800-780-8607 or tell us how we can get in touch online today.

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