Study: Possible Link Between Hair Relaxers, Uterine Tumors

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

CLEVELAND -- Cleveland women are responding to a recently released study in the American Journal of Epidemiology that is linking hair relaxers to uterine fibroid tumors.

According to the study, scientists followed more than 23,000 pre-menopausal African-American women from 1997 to 2009 and found that the two-to-three times higher rate of fibroids among black women may be linked to chemical exposure through scalp lesions and burns resulting from relaxers.

“Over time, there’s gonna be some damage that happens because the alcohol on top of chemical.  And dependent upon tolerability of a person’s scalp and hair, it’s no way you can’t have damage,” said Monica Green, the CEO and founder of So Curly, So Kinky, So Straight salon.

But Dr. Karen Ashby, a gynecologist and fibroid specialist at University Hospitals, isn’t sold on the study, saying, “I think it may be more coincidental than anything else, because I think for a long time we’ve known that uterine fibroids are more common in African-American women.”

Patient Conya Doss was diagnosed with fibroids two years ago and said while the study doesn’t definitively state the link between fibroids and relaxers, “I would have never even thought about getting a relaxer.  And I think if my mom would’ve known, she probably would have never put a relaxer in my hair either.”

Necole Cumberlander, owner of the Ohio Academy Beauty School, also questions the study, since she said African-American women aren’t the only ones who get relaxers.

The authors of the study at Boston University declined an on-camera interview but released a statement to FOX 8 which reads, “We feel that our study merely generates a hypothesis that warrants further investigation. It is simply premature to be claiming that hair relaxer use causes fibroids at this time. Future studies in different populations are necessary.”

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.