A heartbreaking research published this week showed a significantly increased risk of uterine cancer in women who use hair relaxers. For some, the report was alarming, but for others, like Missourian Jenniffer Mitchell, 32, it offered resident explanation.
Mitchell's family had no history of cancer, but in 2018, when she was 28 years old, she received a uterine cancer diagnosis, necessitating the removal of her uterus and cervix and robbing her of the chance to become a mother. She said to Good Morning America that her inability to bear her own children had been the toughest thing she had ever experienced. Mitchell, a Black woman, relaxed her hair as a teen.
Mitchell started having her hair relaxed when she was 10 years old and in the third grade, like many Black women. She used hair relaxers up to March 2022 without realising they could have been related to her condition. She is currently suing L'Oreal and four other hair relaxer producers.
"We represent many, many other women who are coming forward today as they understand the revelations of these scientific facts that suggest there is a relationship between the usage of chemical relaxers and uterine cancer," her attorney Ben Crump said in a statement. He continued by pointing out that many of these women are people of colour, particularly Black women, who turned to relaxants not just as a result of social constraints but also as a result of marketing campaigns by businesses that especially target Black women. Mitchell's family did not have a history of cancer, but when she was 28 years old, she was diagnosed with uterine cancer, which required the removal of her uterus and cervix and prevented her from becoming a mother.
We will be attentively observing as more of these concerns are made public even if no brands have yet removed any chemical items from the shelf.