The Link Between Hair Relaxers and Uterine Cancer: What You Need to Know
Hair relaxers are chemical products designed to straighten and smooth curly or kinky hair. They work by breaking down the protein bonds in the hair, which allows the hair to be straightened and reshaped. While hair relaxers can be an effective way to achieve a certain hairstyle, they can also have serious health consequences including an increased risk of uterine cancer.
What Is Uterine Cancer?
Uterine cancer, also known as endometrial cancer, is the most common type of cancer affecting the female reproductive system. It develops in the lining of the uterus and is typically diagnosed in women over the age of 50. However, research has shown that the use of hair relaxers cause uterine cancer in younger women as well.
What Are the Carcinogenic Agents?
One of the main chemicals used in hair relaxers is sodium hydroxide, also known as lye. Sodium hydroxide is a highly caustic chemical that can cause severe burns and irritation to the skin and eyes. It is also a known carcinogen, meaning that it can cause cancer. When hair relaxers containing sodium hydroxide are applied to the scalp and hair, the chemical can be absorbed through the skin and enter the bloodstream. From there, it can travel to the uterus and other reproductive organs, where it can damage the cells and increase the risk of cancer.
In addition to sodium hydroxide, hair relaxers may also contain other harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde and phthalates. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen that has been linked to several types of cancer, including uterine cancer. Phthalates are chemicals used to make plastic products more flexible and durable, but they have also been linked to reproductive disorders and cancer. When these chemicals are absorbed through the skin and enter the body, they can disrupt hormone levels and damage cells, increasing the risk of cancer.
Using Hair Relaxers Anyway
It is important to be aware of the potential risks associated with hair relaxers and to take steps to minimize exposure to these chemicals. If you use hair relaxers, be sure to follow the instructions carefully and avoid getting the product on your skin or in your eyes. You should also avoid using hair relaxers if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, as the chemicals can be passed to the baby through the placenta or breast milk.
If you are concerned about the potential risks of hair relaxers, there are alternative hair styling options available. Natural hair care products, such as those made with plant-based ingredients, can be a safer and healthier option for maintaining and styling your hair. You can also explore different hairstyles that do not require the use of chemical relaxers, such as braids, twists or natural curls.
To sum it up, hair relaxers containing chemicals such as sodium hydroxide, formaldehyde and phthalates can increase the risk of uterine cancer. If you use hair relaxers, it is important to be aware of the potential risks and to take steps to minimize your exposure to these chemicals. There are also safer and healthier alternatives available for styling and caring for your hair.