Relaxers Linked to Fibroids, Black Hair Products Linked to Cancer

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Relaxers Linked to Fibroids, Black Hair Products Linked to Cancer

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While the Natural Hair Movement continues to flourish, studies continue to show that the drawbacks of relaxers and other chemical ingredients found in black hair products cause serious health risks.

By: Amanda Anderson-Niles

In a time when more black women are learning to adore their natural curls and kinks like nobody’s business, a multitude of recent studies are now showing the advantages of natural hair are more than cosmetic ones. As the number of black women affected by Breast Cancer continues to rise, researchers continue to dig and scramble to find the causes of the increase in the numbers. Originally thought to be merely genetic, it is evident that black women may also find themselves subjected to various forms of illnesses due to the intake of too many chemicals. More specifically, the toxic chemicals found in most of our products and relaxers  targeted to African American women are now being linked to cancer and other health issues.

A 2009 study in the Journal of Epidemiology studied more than 23,000 pre-menopausal African American women. The results  concluded that the two to three times higher rate of fibroids may be linked to chemical exposure at the hands of burns and scalp lesions that are usually a result of relaxers.

Another interesting finding was the connection black hair products have to uterine fibroids.

Women who had their first menstrual period before age 10 are at high risk at developing uterine fibroids, and studies show black hair products can cause black girls to have periods before age 10.Most of the black hair products targeted to black girls and black women contain Placental Extracts, Benzophenones and additional UV screens, and Parabens. These are the same chemicals that have also been proven to cause Breast Cancer.

While many blindly suggest that hair relaxers are merely just a crutch the insecure rely on, it’s more important that people begin to educate black women about the dangers of relaxers versus assuming the reasons they continue to use them.

To avoid any health risks and various forms of cancer, it is imperative that black women pay attention to the labels on the products they take into their bodies.

Amanda is a TV junkie with a passion for all things reality television. She's from Decatur, GA.

21 Comments

  1. Ashley

    May 7, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    Im sorry, but if black women loved themselves more they wouldn’t put themselves in such danger to look more like white women. It has been obvious for years that these relaxers and hair products were terrible for us, but we kept using them anyway because we don’t really care about our bodies. I’m tired of meeting other black women telling me they can’t go natural because it wouldn’t look right on them. What in the world?! That texture was what God gave us! Talk about ignorance! I am careful about everything I take into my body and put in my hair since becoming natural. I wouldn’t go back to the creamy crack for anything.

    • cocoa49

      July 28, 2012 at 11:23 pm

      Thank you! So true

  2. Leela

    May 7, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    Black hair products are some of the worst products out there. They contain mineral oil, alcohol, parabens, etc. These things are not healthy for our hair. There is a misconception that we need “special” products because our hair is so different. Lies! It’s all a marketing scam to make money off us and keep our hair from growing. It’s no coincidence most of the popular black hair products aren’t owned by black people. The key to a good product is natural ingredients. Natural oils and water do wonders for hair.

  3. Really?!

    May 7, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    Ashley, do you have to come off as so better than thou? A relaxer doesn’t mean a black woman has insecurity issues. I don’t want to be white because I prefer straight hair. That kind of attitude keeps some women from going natural. Get over yourself.

  4. Queen

    May 7, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    At Really?!,

    Well just like a hit dog will holler, a woman who prefers a relaxer will pound away at the keyboard defending her love for a white woman’s hair type. How do you figure you look better with someone else’s hair type than your own?

    Chile please. Your mentality is quickly fading in the black community and rightfully so. Good riddance.

  5. Ashley

    May 7, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    @ 1:10/really?!

    Don’t get mad at me because you allowed some random comment on a website to make you feel inferior. You only reinforced my assumptions of the direct link between insecurity and relaxers by taking what I wrote so personally. I didn’t mean to hurt feelings but I spoke the truth. You’ve been mentally conditioned to prefer someone else’s texture over your own. That started because of Madam CJ Walker who is ironically praised in our history for giving black women an easier way to look European. I don’t think I’m better, I just wish you thought better of what God gave you. These tacky ass lacefront wigs and balding relaxers y’all swear by ain’t cutting it, and that study proves it. So who really needs to get over themselves?

    • Ms. Shug Avery

      December 27, 2013 at 11:31 am

      I don’t think anyone should be snubbed are mistreated base upon their personal preference. Chemically altering hair is not exclusive to women of color. When nonblack women “perm” their hair for curls, they aren’t accused of wanting to be black. While, I made the choice let my hair grow natural, I still wear weaves and wigs. I like being able to wash my hair almost daily without the time and devotion that styling my natural hair takes. It should also be noted that the study did not conclude anything. Doctors don’t know what causes fibroids. I appreciate natural or straight styles. I do have issue with natural hair bullies who want to guilt other women with propoganda (a form of communication aimed towards influencing the attitude of the community toward some cause or position by presenting only one side of an argument). I’ve even seen media outlets claim lacefronts cause “forehead cancer”.

  6. Really?!

    May 7, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    Yes, I prefer straight hair! Natural hair does not look good on me or professional enough for my job. It’s also easier to maintain. Why must y’all jump down my throat for my opinion?

  7. Nina

    May 7, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    To the natural hair ladies,
    I want to go natural but I’ll admit I’m afraid I won’t be attractive to black men anymore. I’m not trolling, I really just want to hear from y’all and the editors about your romantic lives as a natural. The idea is great and scary at the same time for me.

  8. Go Away Trolls

    May 7, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    Really?!

    You have to be trolling to make such an ignorant comment like that. So how is natural hair unprofessional exactly?

  9. Queen

    May 7, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    Really?! isn’t a troll, she’s the typical ignorant self hating black chick who will discourage other women from doing what she should do for herself. I remember when I decided to go natural, one of my own friends kept trying to tell me how unattractive I would be if I did it. She also told me how difficult it would be to style “nappy” hair. She’s the same one that won’t leave the house without weave and her hair line has been missing for several years. Needless to say, I cut her off and went natural. Had my hair out and was looking fab when she saw me out a few years later. As expected, she had some tacky wig on, and looked like she belonged on Basketball Wives.

    To Nina,
    Honey men will still be attracted to you. I went natural and got engaged a few years after the fact. Getting married this Summer. It ain’t that deep.

  10. Mia

    May 7, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    Natural hair is not that hard to maintain. Seriously, I wash my hair every week, and usually braid it to stretch it to wear it big or wear buns. I own no more than 5 hair products, and I never need to go to a salon. Once you past the learning curve, you’ll wonder why you didn’t go natural earlier. Lastly, I hate when women say they won’t look right with natural hair. How could you know if you haven’t seen your natural hair since childhood? Stop the madness.

  11. A

    May 7, 2012 at 6:17 pm

    Is it me or people that deem curly, kinky or “nappy” hair unprofessional for work very ignorant and very prejudice?

  12. mature

    May 7, 2013 at 7:08 am

    Why are women on this post attacking each other regarding preferences?
    For those not informed for the longest white women received perms or permanents which produces chemical curls…that’s no different than a black women’s relaxer. Whether a women wears her natural hair curly or straight or she opts for a relaxer that doesn’t give another woman the right to call another woman out of her name. If you disagree with someone’s choice in life…simply say you disagree however the rest of the commentary is uncalled for especially as LADIES.

    • Crystal

      July 31, 2014 at 10:13 am

      Thank you Mature!

  13. Stylist

    December 8, 2013 at 6:09 pm

    Hi ladies. I have been natural for about 10 months now and it ain’t easy. I do believe that I looked more attractive when my hair was straight but I feel that my hair is stronger and more healthy in its natural state. Also I have fibroids and read that relaxers contributed to this.had I known this earlier I would have stopped relaxing sooner. My health is more important to me than the look of my hair and I am very secure with myself no matter what the texture of my hair. I did not go natural to make a pro natural statement . For the person that said black women are trying to look white by straightening their hair, don’t put everyone in one category. Straight hair is easier to manage. As a stylist I sometimes have clients that are indian Israeli and Caucasian that have slightly wavy hair and still want it pin straight, so who are they trying to be?

  14. Anonymous

    December 27, 2013 at 11:56 am

    Y’all can keep putting relaxers in your heads if you want to, but after seeing someone close to me pass away and the autopsy showed her scalp was green and totally raw from wearing a relaxer for years, I am done! Anything that can cause that much havoc to your scalp has to do much worse to the body! It’s common sense. Yes, relaxers are dangerous. And in about ten more years, more proof of that will come out. I’m not for telling other women what to do, but people need to stop thinking it’s about wanting to look white or look more black. Relaxers are dangerous! Do your research and stop being mad at doctors for trying to school you! These fibroids ain’t no joke and we’re not getting them from our diets! Most of the black hair products aren’t even owned by blacks! And the ingredients are not healthy! Wake up and do your research! You’re defending a chemical for crying out loud. Chemicals are responsible for most cancers and diseases!!!! Smh.

  15. PBS

    December 30, 2013 at 3:20 am

    I didn’t receive a perm until I was 16 years old. I wish I never had one. My hair was ruined. It fell out, my scalp burned, and my hair broke off. I have been natural for almost 10 years now and I can gladly say my hair is the healthiest it has ever been. Black women complain about how their natural hair is hard to keep up, when the reality is its easier and cheaper to maintain your natural hair. Not all hair is created equal. I understand that. My hair is a puff of sandy, soft, curly confusion. But I love it. It is a part of me. As a student of Economics I like to budget. I would rather pay for co wash shampoo ($5) coconut oil ($3) and a satin bonnet ($2) and a trim ($15) every once in a while than a perm ($45) trim + style ($30) and 6 week follow ups for them roots.(I don’t even really need a comb) Weaves and extensions!($120+) Good God! So I see going natural as saving money and being healthy. How can you beat that? And that whole thing about professionalism? Please. Girl most potential employers see your resume before they see you. My experiences and skills go far beyond if my hair is relaxed. In most cases I am commended for being different. I find it truly sad that black women hide and change what grows naturally out of their head. It amazes me. We are not willing to take care of the very hair that comes out of our own scalp, yet we will wash and flat iron some hair that came from some Indian lady who shaved her head for religious purposes. Wow. just wow…

  16. Mary

    March 26, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    Why not try to love and embrace our natural hair. Find time to style or know more about our hair so that we’ll know what to do without using any harmful chemicals. Thanks!

  17. Crystal

    July 31, 2014 at 10:11 am

    So you don’t wear relaxers o-k I get that. I do wear relaxers and believe me it has nothing to do with how I feel about myself. I “prefer” low maintenance because of my schedule. But I am a product of the 60’s so I have been through the natural hair movement. I am also an educator in the field. I have been for over 20 years and have worked in the business of hair for 30. Relaxers have come along way in my 30 years. Chemicals have changed and most stylist have better access to educating themselves. Several years back I read a similar article that stated the same thing about black women’s diets being the cause. To me its just another article to pit us against each other. And it seems it was successful.

  18. Tia

    September 1, 2014 at 8:30 am

    I get perms 3 times a year by a professional. Not because I wanna be white but because its easier and more manageable. I work full time I’m a mother and wife. Going natural takes alot of time I don’t have. I love being black and I always get compliments on my long hair thats really mine. I like to wrap and go. Kudos to those that go natural but don’t put down the ones who don’t. Thank u.

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