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Women who used chemical hair straightening products were at higher risk for uterine cancer compared to women who did not report using these products, according to a new study from the National Institutes of Health.

The researchers found that women who reported frequent use of hair straightening products, defined as more than four times in the previous year, were more than twice as likely to go on to develop uterine cancer compared to those who did not use the products.

Certain hair products may contain toxic chemicals with “endocrine-disrupting and carcinogenic properties.” These chemicals can disrupt and potentially harm your hormones, found a recent study released by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. 


Previous studies have also linked chemical hair product use with a higher risk of hormone-sensitive cancers, including uterine and ovarian. 


In addition to the built-in dangers of certain chemicals, heating processes can release or change how the chemicals break down. These processes can lead to a greater risk of breathing or exposure to dangerous chemicals. Examples would be using a flat iron or blow-drying your hair while performing hair straightening treatments.

Who does it affect? 

Approximately 60% of the participants who reported using straighteners in the previous year were self-identified Black women, according to the study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Although, the study did not find that the relationship between straightener use and uterine cancer incidence was different by race, the adverse health effects may be greater for Black women due to higher prevalence of use.

“Because Black women use hair straightening or relaxer products more frequently and tend to initiate use at earlier ages than other races and ethnicities, these findings may be even more relevant for them,” said Che-Jung Chang, Ph.D., an author on the new study and a research fellow in the NIEHS Epidemiology Branch.

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However, in the paper they note that several chemicals that have been found in straighteners (such as parabens, bisphenol A, metals, and formaldehyde) could be contributing to the increased uterine cancer risk observed. Chemical exposure from hair product use, especially straighteners, could be more concerning than other personal care products due to increased absorption through the scalp which may be exacerbated by burns and lesions caused by straighteners.

Similac PM 60/40, Similac, Alimentum and EleCare powdered baby formula products produced in Abbott Nutrition's facility in Sturgis, Michigan. 

The recalls do not include liquid baby formula products.

What are the Symptoms of Contaminated Baby Formula?

Cronobacter bacteria can cause severe, life-threatening infections (sepsis) or meningitis (inflammation of the membranes that protect the brain and spine). Symptoms of sepsis and meningitis may include poor feeding, irritability, temperature changes, jaundice (yellow skin and whites of the eyes), grunting breaths, and abnormal movements. Cronobacter infection may also cause bowel damage and may spread through the blood to other parts of the body.


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