Would you ever think that straightening your hair could risk your health? It turns out that the use of chemical hair straighteners, such as relaxers, may lead to an increase in uterine cancer in women. Until recent research, researchers believed that only ovarian and breast cancer could result from the application of chemical hair straighteners. But a recent study conducted by the National Cancer Institute proves otherwise. Many people question how these harmful chemicals are allowed in hair care products and why the FDA does not ban their use. In response to that question, hair care products are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Therefore the FDA is not responsible for the safety of customers who become victims of these harmful chemicals found in their products. In addition, these products are mainly bought and used by black women, who permanently want to straighten their hair. In comparison to other women within the study, 60% of women who did use these products identified as black. As a black woman, I believe that information about what is in our hair care products needs to be studied and the research needs to be shared. With the hope that more black women can avoid harmful products such as relaxers to prioritize their health.

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A study was conducted for a decade on 34,000 women to see if hair straightening products led to uterine cancer. The study did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship between products and uterine cancer. However, there was 2.41% difference between the risk factor of women who did use chemical straightening products and women who did not use chemical straightening products.

Parabens, bisphenol, formaldehyde, and metals play a key role in the increase of uterine cancer because of their reputation for disrupting the endocrine system. The endocrine system is the organ system responsible for controlling and regulating the body’s hormones. The organ system, compiled of multiple glands placed throughout the body, releases hormones into the bloodstream to control factors such as insulin, the function of reproductive organs, body growth, and energy development.

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When these hormones are called upon by a cell’s receptors, which send out signals asking for specific hormones, they come in contact with the targeted cells. This process would not be possible without the cell membrane. The cell membrane is a layer that encompasses all the cell’s internal parts called organelles. In addition, the membrane serves as a barrier between what is inside and outside the cell. The importance of the cell membrane and how it transports and brings materials into the cell is emphasized in the AP Biology curriculum. At this point within the cell, the cell takes on the process of receptor-mediated endocytosis. The hormone whose need is triggered by the cell docks with a receptor. The cell membrane then engulfs the needed hormone.

In all, research about the harmful effects of chemicals in hair straightening products is alarming for women everywhere. Specifically, for the black community who’s women depend on these products more often for hair maintenance and care.

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