In the News| Uterine Fibroids and Early Puberty Linked to Chemical Relaxers

by West Parsons on March 25, 2013 · 6 comments

in in the news

black woman relaxer


A new study in the American Journal of Epidemiology[+] definitely adds a point to the #TeamNatural tally with a published paper from researchers at Boston University linking hair relaxers to uterine fibroid tumors in women and early puberty in young girls.

Led by Lauren Wise of Boston University’s Slone Epidemiology Center, 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 (menarche) 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, menarche, and fibroid tumors, as Tamika Fletcher, co-owner of Natural Resources salon in Houston, pointed out in a Fox report, the hair care industry isn’t regulated by the FDA so there’s no telling what black women are putting in their hair and how harmful those products may be.

These studies go way beyond the damaging effects chemical relaxers may have on one’s hair, women and girls may be damaging their reproductive systems with some of the hair products they use, making it even more critical to know exactly what you’re putting in your hair and in your body.

How do you research the hair products you use and make sure they’re safe?



Jennie A. March 25, 2013 at 4:35 pm

I used to use hair relaxer, not now. But I never knew that they are not regulated by FDA. The companies only care about $$$ nothing else…so be careful if you use these products. Thanks for the post 🙂

Wranchetta March 25, 2013 at 6:09 pm

Wow. Extremely intriguing… I’ve alway heard that chemical relaxers had a negative impact on the body. Never saw the research though. Thanks for sharing.

westNDNbeauty March 25, 2013 at 8:53 pm

No problem. I’d never seen the research either. Great to finally see investigational data.

LaToya April 3, 2013 at 6:49 pm

I don’t believe this. I’m sure our diets have a far greater effect than sodium hydroxide being applied and then washed off the scalp.

westNDNbeauty April 3, 2013 at 7:09 pm

I do agree our diets do play a role. BUT I do ask you to consider there are medications that are applied via patch. Our skin absorbs the medication and it is transported into our bloodstream. I hypothesize that sodium hydroxide can do the same.

Jacquie July 3, 2013 at 4:31 pm

Especially when we have chemical burns to our scalp. The products we have on our scalp will seep in through those abrasions. I’ve had 2nd degree burns from chemical relaxers and needed to take antibiotics to control the infection. That is when I stopped relaxing my hair. I wasn’t going to endure that anymore. Yes there needs to be further research just to make sure the findings are not just correlation but causation, but I won’t rule out that the chemicals we put on our scalp (especially un-regulated) do not have an impact on your health. With the amount of endocrine disorders that are so prevalent today, it is folly to dismiss the effects our choices have on our bodies.
And many women do not discover they have major endocrine issues until they try to get pregnant etc. By then a lot of damage has been done.