Endometrial Cancer Lawsuit Filed Over Perm Chemicals in ORS Olive Oil, Other Hair Relaxers

Plaintiff had to undergo targeted radiation therapy to treat the endometrial cancer she says was caused by perm chemicals.

According to allegations raised in a recently filed product liability lawsuit, straightening perm chemicals in ORS Olive Oil, Avlon Affirm and other hair relaxers caused endometrial cancer for an Indiana woman, which doctors determined was medically inoperable.

The complaint (PDF) was brought by Irene Sanderson in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana on March 8, indicating she developed the cancer after years of using ORS Olive Oil Hair Relaxer, Avlon Affirm Sensitive Scalp Relaxer, Dark & Lovely, and TCB Relaxer to straighten her hair.

Although the products were promoted as safe, Sanderson claims the manufacturers failed to disclose that the hair perms expose women to toxic endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDC), including phthalates, which are known to increase the risk of endometrial cancer, uterine cancer and other injuries.


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Sanderson indicates that the regular and prolonged exposure the perm chemicals in the hair relaxers directly resulted in her July 2021 diagnosis of medically inoperable stage 1A serous carcinoma of the endometrium; which is a form of endometrial cancer. As a result, Sanderson underwent Ir-192 triple tandem brachytherapy, which involves intentional, targeted radiation exposure.

The case joins a growing number of hair relaxer lawsuits filed in recent months, each raising similar allegations and pointing to a growing body of medical research that suggests manufacturers knew or should have known about the cancer risk associated with the perm chemicals, yet the continued to target African American women with marketing that suggested the products were safe for use on the scalp.

“EDCs [Endocrine disrupting chemicals] that mimic the effects of estrogen in the body may contribute to disease risk because exposure to estrogen, endogenously and exogenously, is associated with uterine cancer, ovarian cancer and other types of hormone-sensitive cancers,” according to the complaint filed by Sanderson. “A woman’s lifetime risk of developing these hormone-sensitive cancers increases with greater duration and cumulative exposure.”

Endometrial Cancer and Hair Relaxers

Endometrial cancer is the most common type of uterine cancer, which begins in the uterus and typically develops slowly over time. Common symptoms may include vaginal bleeding, pain in the pelvic area and bloating. However, the problems often are not be noticed until the disease is at an advanced stage.

Lawsuits over the link between endometrial cancer and hair perm chemicals began to emerge late ast year, after a study found that frequent users of hair relaxers faced a 156% increased risk of developing uterine cancer.

In October 2022, findings were published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, which warned that ingredients used in the chemical hair relaxers may cause uterine cancer. Researchers from the National Institute of Environmental Health reviewed data on nearly 34,000 women in the United States between the ages of 35 and 74 who completed questionnaires on their use of multiple hair products, including hair dyes, straighteners, relaxers, or pressing products, and permanents or body waves. A 10 year follow-up on the incident rate of uterine cancer diagnosis was performed.

According to the results, researchers identified 378 cases of endometrial cancer or uterine cancer, finding participants who used hair straightening products at least once had the highest rate of cancer diagnosis compared to any other hair products involved in the study. They also had a higher rate of uterine cancer when compared to women who used no hair straightener products.

March 2023 Hair Relaxer Lawsuit Update

The lawsuit filed by Sanderson will be consolidated with other similar claims brought through the federal court system, which have been centralized before U.S. District Judge Mary Rowland in the Northern District of Illinois as part of a hair relaxer MDL, or multidistrict litigation.

In March 2023, Judge Rowland is expected to approve a streamlined procedure for direct filing of new hair relaxer lawsuits in the MDL. As more Black women learn their long-term exposure to hair straighteners and perm chemicals may be the cause of endometrial cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine fibroids and other injuries, it is expected that thousands of women will ultimately file lawsuits over the remainder of this year.

To help the parties gauge how juries are likely to respond to certain evidence and testimony that will be repeated throughout the claims, it is expected that Judge Rowland will establish a “bellwether” process, where small groups of representative claims involving different types of cancer from hair relaxers will be prepared for early trial dates However, if the parties fail to negotiate hair relaxer settlements to resolve claims following the MDL proceedings, each case may later be remanded back to the U.S. District Court where it was originally filed for a separate trial date in the future.


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Lawyers provide free consultations and claim evaluations for women diagnosed with endometrial cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer and other injuries caused by perm chemicals in hair relaxer products.


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  • SheilaMarch 21, 2023 at 1:19 pm

    I was contacted a little while back about this situation, but because the person that I spoke with stated since I didn't get diagnosed with cancer, I didn't have a claim. But in reading this article it says that uterine fibriods, may develop after using hair relaxers over a period of time, and I definitely have these, the last time it was checked, one was the size of a plum

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