Lawsuit Alleges L’Oreal Hair Relaxer Caused Fibroids and Need For Uterine Myomectomy

Plaintiff alleges hair relaxer caused uterine fibroids when she was only 22, after exposure to toxic chemicals in L'Oreal products since she was six years old

A Florida woman has filed a product liability lawsuit alleging that L’Oreal hair relaxer products caused her to develop endometriosis and uterine fibroids, resulting in the need for a uterine myomectomy to remove them.

The complaint (PDF) was filed by KeAira Gamble on October 26, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia. The lawsuit names L’Oreal USA, Inc., Strength of Nature Global, LLC, Soft Sheen/Carson, Inc. and Namaste Laboratories, LLC as defendants, indicating that the companies were responsible for the development and sale of various toxic hair relaxer products, including Just for Me, Motions, and ORS Olive Oil products.

Gamble joins a growing number of women now pursuing a hair relaxer lawsuit after developing uterine cancer, breast cancer, fibroids, endometrosis and other injuries allegedly caused by long-term exposure to toxic phthalates and other endocrine disrupting chemicals that have ben found in hair relaxers that have been marketed as safe for decades.

Gamble indicates she began using hair relaxer products in 1994, when she was only six years old. She continued to use hair straighteners until at least 2012, resulting in 18 years of exposure the toxic chemicals in the hair relaxers.

“Mrs. Gamble would keep the Product on her hair for the time allotted in the instructions. There was never any indication, on the Products packaging or otherwise, that this normal use could and would cause her to develop fibroids,” the lawsuit states. “Ms. Gamble was diagnosed with uterine fibroids on or about September 2011, at the young age of 22, after experiencing extremely heavy bleeding and excruciating pain during her periods.”

The lawsuit indicates she underwent a myomectomy that month to remove the fibroids caused by hair relaxer chemicals. During the procedure, Gamble’s doctors discovered she also had endometriosis.

In 2019 the fibroids returned, and she has developed a cyst on her left ovary. The lawsuit states Gamble continues to experience heavy clotting during her menstrual cycle, as well as painful cramping.

“Ms. Gamble’s uterine fibroids are directly and proximately caused by her regular and prolonged exposure to phthalates and other endocrine disrupting chemicals found in Defendant’s hair relaxer products,” according to the lawsuit, which involves claims for strict liability, failure to warn, design and manufacturing defects, negligence, misrepresentation, fraud, concealment, breach of express and implied warranty, violation of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, violation of the Georgia Fair Business Practices Act of 1975, and negligent failure to issue a hair relaxer recall after the manufacturer learned about the risks associated with their products.

Hair Relaxer Uterine Fibroid and Endometriosis Risks

Uterine fibroids are usually noncancerous growths in the uterus. Many women develop them during their lives, but often do not know because mild cases sometimes cause no symptoms. However, in other cases, numerous fibroids can appear and cause the uterus to expand, which can lead to pain and other health problems.

Symptoms of uterine fibroids can include:

  • Heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Long-duration menstrual periods lasting more than a week
  • Pelvic pain or pressure
  • Constipation
  • Back or leg pain
  • Frequent urination and difficulty emptying the bladder.

In some cases, uterine fibroids have also been linked to infertility or pregnancy loss. It was originally believed that they carried very few health risks, however, in 2017 the FDA warned that potentially as many as one out of every 255 women have uterine fibroids which contain hidden cancer cells.

This revelation led to changes in uterine fibroid removal, with doctors moving away from the use of power morcellators, which could accidentally release the cancerous cells and spread cancer to other parts of a woman’s body.

Now, uterine fibroids are often removed via what is known as a myomectomy, where the fibroids are surgically removed from the wall of the uterus while preserving the uterus the woman’s ability to bear children. However, it does not stop fibroids from recurring later in life.

Endometriosis is a condition where cells like those lining the uterus begin to grow outside of the uterus, onto the ovaries, Fallopian tubes and tissue lining the pelvis. The condition can cause pain during periods, intercourse, bowel movements or urination, and can also cause excessive bleeding and infertility. In addition, ovarian cancer appears to occur at higher rates among those with endometriosis.

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Hair Relaxer Uterine Cancer Risks

Chemical hair relaxers are popular among African American women, to style hair into a straight configuration by using extremely high heat and chemicals to break down disulphide bonds, which are the permanent hair bonds responsible for an individual’s natural hair type. However, the products often use a variety of hazardous chemicals, including formaldehyde, Di-2-ethylhexylphthalate (DEHP) and phthalates; all of which are known for their individual abilities to either cause cancer, disrupt normal hormone function and cause reproductive and developmental problems, among other side effects.

In recent years multiple studies have been published highlighting the risk of hair relaxers and perms causing cancer.

Earlier this month, a study was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, warning that ingredients used in the chemical hair straighteners may cause uterine cancer. Researchers found that the rate of uterine cancer was nearly three times greater among women who frequently used hair relaxer chemicals, compared to women who never used the products.

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 uterine cancer cases, finding participants who used hair straightening products at least once had the highest rate of uterine 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.

Studies Linking Hair Straightener Chemicals to Breast Cancer

A 2019 study published in the International Journal of Cancer (IJC) issued similar findings, indicating women who reported regularly using straighteners and permanent hair dyes were 9% more likely to develop breast cancer than non-users.

Over an eight year period, researchers identified 2,794 cases of breast cancer after chemical hair straighteners use. The study revealed those who frequently used hair straightener products were at a significantly increased risk of breast cancer, finding women using hair straighteners at least every five to eight weeks, had a 30% increased risk of developing breast cancer.

Researchers warned that African American women who reported using permanent hair dyes regularly were associated with a 60% increase of breast cancer diagnosis, compared to an 8% increased risk for Caucasian women.

Contact A Lawyer

Latest Hair Relaxer Lawsuit Updates

Learn more about allegations involved in hair relaxer cancer lawsuits being pursued by women throughout the U.S. and criteria for claims being investigated by lawyers.

2022 Hair Relaxer Lawsuit Update

3 Comments

  • TonyaNovember 15, 2022 at 3:05 am

    I have used relaxer products, specially Dark n lovely as well as permanent hair dye. I’ve been using these products for years as young as age 11 or younger. I have found to have endometriosis and had surgery almost two years ago as an attempt to remove it. But was told this can continue to spread through the body as there is no cure.

  • KristiNovember 2, 2022 at 12:54 pm

    These products that I used as a child growing up have caused me to have fibroids removed.

  • LameciaNovember 2, 2022 at 7:56 am

    My stomach was swollen for about a year and I didn't know what was going on and come to find out I had uterine fibroids and had to have surgery and they took my ovaries,and I can't have children.

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