L’Oreal USA Faces First In Potential Wave Of Lawsuits Over Hair Straightener-Uterine Cancer Link
In her complaint against L’Oreal and other marketers of hair-smoothing products, plaintiff Jenny Mitchell, who was diagnosed with uterine cancer in August 2018, cites an NIH study published in October as “the first epidemiologic evidence of association between use of straightening products and uterine cancer.” She claims the defendants engaged in negligent or fraudulent practices in their marketing and sale of hair-straightening products that they knew posed dangers to users.
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US district judge Mary Rowland decided not to throw out the majority of plaintiffs’ claims against L’Oreal, Revlon, SoftSheen-Carson and other hair-relaxer marketers on 13 November. She says plaintiffs have sufficiently pleaded at this stage that defendants’ negligence resulted in their unknowingly using toxic chemical straightening products on their hair, leading to cancers or other injuries.
Level Up, fighting for gender justice in the UK, says L’Oreal should reformulate or remove its hair relaxers from the market based on a US National Institutes of Health study indicating that frequent, long-term use of such products more than doubles risk of developing uterine cancer. Meanwhile the beauty giant is embroiled in numerous related lawsuits in federal courts around the US.
Analyzing data from around 47,000 women enrolled in its Sister Study, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences found that regular users of permanent hair dye were 9% more likely to develop breast cancer compared with less frequent users. The increased probability reached 60% for African American women who dye their hair every five to eight weeks. Industry and NGO EWG respond.