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Chemical Hair Straightener Use Doubles Risk Of Uterine Cancer: Study Finds

Uterine cancer is the sixth most commonly occurring cancer for women around the world.

2 min read
Chemical Hair Straightener Use Doubles Risk Of Uterine Cancer: Study Finds
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People who use chemical hair straighteners frequently may double the risk of developing uterine cancer – as compared to those who have never used such products, findings from a US study has revealed.

The use of hair straighteners in 34,000 US women, from diverse backgrounds, were studied for over a decade, to draw the inference.

The study was done by National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (N.I.E.H.S.) and published in  The Journal of the National Cancer Institute, earlier on 17 October.

Uterine cancer, also known as endometrial cancer, is the sixth most commonly occurring cancer for women around the world. In the year 2020, over 417,000 cases reported, across the world.

The Big Points: What We Know

  • Of the 34,000 women following over a decade, 378 cases of uterine cancer were diagnosed.

  • Upon analysis, the scientists found that women who used chemical hair straightening products more four times in 1 year were more than twice as likely to develop uterine cancer.

“We estimated that 1.64 percent of women who never used hair straighteners would go on to develop uterine cancer by the age of 70; but for frequent users, that risk goes up to 4.05 percent,” Dr Alexandra White, head of the environment and cancer epidemiology group, and lead author of the study, told Medical News.

However, the study also pointed that Black women are more disproportionately affected – with over 60 percent of the study participants identifying with the ethic group.

“We don’t want to panic people. One could make a decision to reduce this chemical exposure, but we also want to acknowledge that there is a lot of pressure on women, especially Black women, to have straight hair. It’s not an easy decision to not do this.”
Dr Alexandra White to the New York Times

In 2019, another research by National Institute of Environmental Health Safety revealed that permanent hair dye and straighteners could increase the risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

Uterine Cancer: Symptoms, Diagnosis

India does not have an official data of the number of women suffering from uterine cancer. Oncologists, however, point that the following are the most common symptoms.

  • Unusual bleeding between menstrual cycles or after menopause

  • Pelvic pain

  • Pain during urination

  • Feeling of heaviness in the pelvic area

  • Weight loss


For diagnosing endometrial cancer, a procedure known as endometrial biopsy is done. A small amount of uterine tissue is removed by inserting a narrow tube into the uterus through the vagina. This is then sent to the lab to detect presence of cancerous cells.

In some cases, CT scan, MRI scan and ultrasound may help in diagnosis of endometrial cancer.

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