a woman reflects after a uterine fibroid diagnosis | Coplan and Crane

Can Hair Relaxers Cause Uterine Fibroids?

December 26, 2022

While a recent study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute reported that chemical hair straighteners have been linked to an increased risk of uterine cancer, previous studies have suggested that hair relaxers cause uterine fibroids. These studies have found that Black women have a higher instance of fibroid occurrence than White women; Black women use hair relaxers more than any other population group; and statistically, Black women present with fibroids at younger ages.

The Chicago hair relaxer attorneys at Coplan + Crane are investigating cases on behalf of people who have used chemical hair straighteners and were later diagnosed with uterine fibroids, uterine cancer, breast cancer, and endometriosis. If you used hair relaxers and are now facing a related medical condition, contact our office today. You may be eligible for compensation.

What Are Uterine Fibroids?

Also referred to as myomas or leiomyomas, uterine fibroids are noncancerous tumors that can grow in and on the uterus. They are typically rounded growths that appear as nodules of smooth muscle tissue. They can sometimes be attached with a narrow stem, which gives them a mushroom-like appearance. Women can have a single fibroid or multiple ones. 

Uterine fibroids can be so small that they are undetectable by the human eye, or they can form bulky masses that enlarge and distort the uterus. In cases of numerous fibroids, they can expand the uterus so much that it reaches the rib cage and adds weight.

Generally, fibroids do not affect a woman’s ability to get pregnant. However, it is possible that fibroids — particularly submucosal fibroids — can lead to infertility or pregnancy loss. The risk of certain pregnancy complications may also be increased by fibroids, such as preterm delivery, fetal growth restriction, and placental abruption.

While rare, fibroids have been linked to cancer. One out of 350 people with fibroids will develop malignancy. If you have experienced rapid growth of uterine fibroids, or developed fibroids during menopause, you should visit a doctor promptly.

What Causes Uterine Fibroids?

Fibroids result from an overgrowth of muscle cells in the uterus. Most are harmless. New scientific research indicates that chemical hair relaxers may contribute to the development of uterine fibroids. Uterine fibroids are a common indication for hysterectomy. This can greatly affect the lives and well-being of women who want to have children.

Research and clinical experience have also identified other potential contributing factors, such as:

  • Extracellular matrix (ECM): This is the material that binds cells together, like mortar between bricks. It also stores growth factors and causes cells to change. Fibroids contain increased ECM, making them fibrous.
  • Hormones: Progesterone and estrogen appear to promote fibroid growth. During each menstrual cycle, these hormones stimulate the development of the uterine lining in preparation for pregnancy. Fibroids contain more progesterone and estrogen receptors than typical uterine muscle cells do. Fibroids usually get smaller post-menopause because of the reduction of hormone production.
  • Genetic changes. Fibroids often contain genetic changes that differ from those in other uterine muscle cells.
  • Other factors. Substances such as insulin-like growth factors that help the body maintain tissues may promote the growth of fibroids.

80% of Black women develop fibroids over their lifetime. If you used chemical hair relaxers and developed uterine fibroids, it is in your best interest to contact the experienced attorneys at Coplan + Crane right away. You may be entitled to compensation for your physical, financial, and emotional losses.

Do Hair Relaxers Cause Uterine Fibroids?

A study by the American Journal of Epidemiology found that hair relaxers increased the risk for uterine fibroids. From 1997 to 2009 23,000 premenopausal women were monitored in the study. The results concluded that black women were two to three times more likely to develop uterine fibroids. In total, 7,000 women in the study were diagnosed with fibroids.

Fibroids are a leading cause of the more than 600,000 hysterectomies performed every year. Black women lead the world in hysterectomies. Of hysterectomies performed on Black women, the vast majority are due to fibroids. Black women are diagnosed with fibroids approximately three times more than white women. Additionally, Black women typically experience fibroids that are larger, more numerous, and occur earlier in life, leading to more severe symptoms.

Symptoms of Uterine Fibroids

Approximately one-third of uterine fibroids become symptomatic. Abnormal uterine bleeding and pelvic pressure are two of the most common complaints of women with uterine fibroids. 

Symptoms of uterine fibroids can include:

  • Backache or leg pains
  • Constipation
  • Difficulty emptying the bladder
  • Frequent urination
  • Pelvic pressure or pain
  • Menstrual periods lasting more than a week
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding

Due to decreased hormone levels, the symptoms of uterine fibroids typically stabilize or disappear after a woman has gone through menopause.

Call a Chicago Hair Relaxer Lawyer for FREE

If you used chemical hair relaxers and have been diagnosed with uterine fibroids or another health condition, contact Coplan + Crane today for FREE. We may be able to help you pursue the maximum compensation to which you are entitled under the law. We handle cases on a contingency basis, meaning you owe nothing unless we achieve a favorable outcome in your case.

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Contact us today online or at (708) 358-8080 for a FREE case evaluation. Coplan + Crane welcomes clients from Chicago, Oak Park, Rockford, and other areas throughout Illinois and the United States.