Uterine Fibroid Lawsuit Filed Over Exposure to Hair Relaxer Chemicals

Plaintiff was diagnosed with uterine fibroids at 29, and had to undergo a hysterectomy by age 41 according to the hair relaxer lawsuit.

Amid a growing number of hair relaxer uterine cancer lawsuits being filed, a new uterine fibroid lawsuit filed against L’Oreal and other manufacturers of hair relaxers, alleging that a Florida woman had to undergo a hysterectomy following years of exposure to the toxic hair straightening chemicals.

Mahogany Lee filed the complaint (PDF) on October 27, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia. The lawsuit indicates that phthalates and other endocrine disrupting chemicals in hair relaxers caused uterine fibroids to develop when she was only 29 years old.

The uterine fibroid lawsuit names L’Oreal, USA, Inc., Strength of Nature Global, LLC, Soft Sheen/Carson Inc,, Namaste Laboratories, LLC and Godrej Consumer Products Ltd. as defendants, for their role in developing and selling some of the most widely used hair relaxers on the market, including “Dark & Lovely”, “Optimum Care”, “Motions”, “Just for Me”, “OR Olive Oil” and “African Pride”.

Lawsuit Alleges Manufacturers Failed to Warn About Hair Relaxer Risks

Lee’s complaint joins an increasing number of women now pursuing a hair relaxer lawsuit after developing uterine cancer, breast cancer, uterine fibroids, endometriosis and other injuries allegedly caused by long-term exposure to chemicals in products, which have been marketed as safe for decades, particularly to African American women and other women of color.

According to the lawsuit, the hair relaxer chemicals caused uterine fibroids to develop about 15 years after Lee began using the products, when she was only 14 years old. However, she was unaware of the risks associated with the regular chemical hair straightening routines, since the relaxers contained warnings or other indication that they carried a risk of uterine fibroids.

“Ms’ Lee was diagnosed with uterine fibroids on or about the year 2009, at the young age of 29 years old, after experiencing various symptoms including but not limited to extremely heavy bleeding and excruciating pain during her periods,” the lawsuit states. “There was never any indication, on the Products packaging or otherwise, that this normal use could and would cause her to develop uterine fibroids.”

In May 2009, Lee underwent a myomectomy to remove the fibroids. However, they returned three years later, which led to the need for a hysterectomy at age 41, leaving her sterile. As a result she now has to receive hormone therapy treatments and mourns the inability to ever have children.

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Hair Relaxer Uterine Fibroid 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.

A hysterectomy is usually only recommended in cases where the fibroids are large, and the procedure leaves the woman unable to have any future children.

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 cancer.

In October, a study was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, warning that ingredients used in the chemical hair relaxers 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 diagnosis following hair relaxer 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.

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Find Out If You Qualify for a Hair Relaxer Lawsuit

Learn more about allegations raised in hair relaxer uterine fibroid and cancer lawsuits, as well as the criteria for claims being investigated by lawyers.

2022 Hair Relaxer Lawsuit Update

23 Comments

  • MalishaNovember 30, 2022 at 10:36 am

    I keep having issue with heavy bleeding back in 2004. Finally in Feb of 2006 everything came crashing down on my had to have a emergency blood transfusion then about two week has to have a emergency hysterectomy it almost cost me my life fibroid cysts. I was only 38 yrs old

  • NayoNovember 26, 2022 at 4:43 am

    I have used these products as well. I was diagnosed with fibroids in 2010. I had to get a blood transfusion that's when I finally found out what it was. I had a myomectomy in 2019. I suffered a miscarriage in 2015. I wish I would have known the risk I was using then since about 9 or 10 years old.

  • ChandraNovember 24, 2022 at 4:27 pm

    I used hair relaxers from 1985 to 2021. I have fibroids, heavy and often very long menstrual periods lasting weeks at a time.

  • ChristinaNovember 22, 2022 at 11:06 pm

    I got my first relaxer when I was 10 years old. I stopped getting them when I was 25. I’m 39 and have been relaxer free for 14 years. However, I got diagnosed with fibroids in my early 20s or mid 20’s. I can’t remember. I would have to look at my records. However, as a result, I have heavy menstrual bleeding, pelvic pain and excruciating menstrual cramps.

  • KarenNovember 21, 2022 at 3:06 pm

    I have been having relaxers done on me since childhood from my mother and then myself once I reached adulthood until 2015, I was diagnosed with uterine fibroids approximately around 2000 not sure, will check my medical records and was still perming my hair at that time, not knowing the potential of a health risk. I have a few of them, have had 3 DNC's and 2 Ablations, Hysteroscopies I didn'[Show More]I have been having relaxers done on me since childhood from my mother and then myself once I reached adulthood until 2015, I was diagnosed with uterine fibroids approximately around 2000 not sure, will check my medical records and was still perming my hair at that time, not knowing the potential of a health risk. I have a few of them, have had 3 DNC's and 2 Ablations, Hysteroscopies I didn't want a hysterectomy due to wanting to have a child for my husband. It never happened. Still suffering with uterine pain and painful intercourse. Iron level was under 5 and broke 2 teeth due to eating ice.

  • DonnaNovember 18, 2022 at 12:31 pm

    I used all of the relaxers since I was 18 years in 1996 I went to the doctor thought I might be pregnant but come to find out I had fibroid tumors and I had to have a partial hysterectomy

  • ErikaNovember 16, 2022 at 7:24 pm

    I’ve had a myomectomy(35), hysterectomy(36/37), a DNC, and just recently my tubes and ovaries were removed. I received a relaxer (Optimum/Motions) at the age of fourteen and began menses the same year. Diagnosed with fibroids around the age of twenty-one. I endured and am still in Pelvic Floor Therapy due to the chronic pain and scar tissue left behind that doctors couldn’t keep me under any long[Show More]I’ve had a myomectomy(35), hysterectomy(36/37), a DNC, and just recently my tubes and ovaries were removed. I received a relaxer (Optimum/Motions) at the age of fourteen and began menses the same year. Diagnosed with fibroids around the age of twenty-one. I endured and am still in Pelvic Floor Therapy due to the chronic pain and scar tissue left behind that doctors couldn’t keep me under any longer to remove. My son died in 2009 because fibroids grew with him, but there was one pressed against his head.

  • ToniNovember 16, 2022 at 2:13 am

    I started relaxing my hair at the age of 20 and not knowing the heavy bleeding but going to have surgery probably 2023 but having biopsy done December 2022 so fibroids the size of a golf ball but been suffering with these cramps but didn’t know why thank you

  • AmeliaNovember 15, 2022 at 3:46 am

    I have been using hair relaxers and straighteners since i was a child. I was diagnosed with uterine fibroids in 2006. My quality of life suffered due to heavy menstrual bleeding. I would like to speak with someone regarding my situation.

  • MekitaNovember 14, 2022 at 1:25 pm

    I was diagnosed with fibroids in 2018 and I was scheduled to have an abrsion surgery in March of 2020 due to my heavy blooding which is causing me to be anicic but COVID came and they cancelled all no emergency surgeries. Here today I haven't had the surgery yet.

  • ChandraNovember 14, 2022 at 10:36 am

    I have been using hair relaxers for years. In my early 30s I was diagnosed with fibroid on my uterus. In January of 2009 I had to have a myomectomy. Years later the fibroid grew back. I was unable to have children because I also struggled with infertility issues.

  • CreshaNovember 11, 2022 at 8:14 pm

    I've had fibroids since 13 and Im 39 now. I had a procedure done for fibroids and almost lost my life 2 months ago and due to that procedure Im going through a lot of difficulties. I been using perm since 1990 please help me. I also have all my medical files due to this situation.

  • PamNovember 11, 2022 at 1:36 pm

    I've used relaxers for 30 plus years Dark and Lovely, Just for Me, Revlon, and many others. I developed Fibroids which resulted in two surgeries. One was an emergency removal of a couple. The other was a partial hysterectomy which required two surgeons to remove them. Horrible!!!

  • DeborahNovember 10, 2022 at 9:27 am

    I was a faithful user of hair relaxers since the 80s up to this year I have had problems with uterus fibroids for a couple of years not knowing that it was connected to the relaxers I was using. I just had a surgery on my stomach a couple months ago and have another surgery coming up to remove more fibroids in a couple months. I'm a 55 year old female and not only have I used relaxers on my hair[Show More]I was a faithful user of hair relaxers since the 80s up to this year I have had problems with uterus fibroids for a couple of years not knowing that it was connected to the relaxers I was using. I just had a surgery on my stomach a couple months ago and have another surgery coming up to remove more fibroids in a couple months. I'm a 55 year old female and not only have I used relaxers on my hair but I've also used relaxers on my 3 daughters hair

  • KatrinaNovember 9, 2022 at 8:44 pm

    I Katrina carthon,have use perms since I was 15 years old,I have had a hysterectomy because of fibroid tumors which caused me to have heavy bleeding,prolonged menstrual periods,terrible pain because of them.

  • KinishaNovember 9, 2022 at 2:49 pm

    I started getting relaxers around the age of 10. By the time I was in my 20's periods were extremely painful and heavy. I was orignally told I could not have children with the size and number of fibroids I had. I did conceive but my son struggled to grow in my uterus with the huge fibroids that were made worse with pregnancy hormones. I was in constant pain as they grew so large that they som[Show More]I started getting relaxers around the age of 10. By the time I was in my 20's periods were extremely painful and heavy. I was orignally told I could not have children with the size and number of fibroids I had. I did conceive but my son struggled to grow in my uterus with the huge fibroids that were made worse with pregnancy hormones. I was in constant pain as they grew so large that they sometimes burst inside me. I had to see a specialist on top of an OB to monitor my condition. After my son was born I had to undergo a hysterectomy and the removal of a parastic fibroid that attached to my ovary and grew to the size of a football. Then I lost both ovaries due to ovarian torision from large cysts. I also had to have a partial thryoid removal as my thyroid grew large and stopped functioning. I read an article about thyroid conditons and relaxers around this time and knew I couldn't take any more chances. My last relaxer was in 2019. Now my thyroid functions and I have less endocrine issues all around. I'm in full blown menopause though and I wish I had stopped the relaxers sooner.

  • ShabornNovember 8, 2022 at 8:14 pm

    I'm 40 yrs old and suffering with fibroids I was diagnosed in 2012. Every time I got a pap I had irregular ones and a biopsy was needed to see if I had cancer. It came back negative however they never told me I had uterine fibroids not til 2012 in Georgia after I went for a check up. Dr. Seemed surprised as they asked about my fibroids like did you know you had this ? I'm like what no what is it ?[Show More]I'm 40 yrs old and suffering with fibroids I was diagnosed in 2012. Every time I got a pap I had irregular ones and a biopsy was needed to see if I had cancer. It came back negative however they never told me I had uterine fibroids not til 2012 in Georgia after I went for a check up. Dr. Seemed surprised as they asked about my fibroids like did you know you had this ? I'm like what no what is it ? They explained yrs went by I was ok til 2018 when I started spotting in between periods. Now I bleed every day light before my real period starts. I went from 3 days to 10 or more days of periods. I look pregnant, all the time. I was always a small framed woman now I'm big in my belly and bleeding all the time I didn't want a hysterectomy but it seems I maybe headed there. I do have 4 children grateful. But I wanted to die with what God gave me and made me a whole female. In 2012 I started going natural wore loose hair til 2018 when I locd my hair. I used so many perms and dyes before singer Mary J and rapper Lil Kim In the 90s. I started with just 4 me when I was 4 yrs of age my mom permed my hair it became easier for her being she had daughters. It became a ritual for me dark n lovely bantu, creme of nature, motions and african pride with hair dyes and perm. I'm so miserable I wear a tampon everyday of my life now. Which also is irrating me. I can't get my bf to understand me clearly he thinks I don't love him because I don't want intimacy with him. My mood swings are crazy. I eat ice everyday even in the cold my blood levels are low. I really don't have many options but I'm on vitamin b complex to help and considering herbals to help maintain. I'm the only female out of my family suffering from this. I have nobody thT can understand what I'm going through ughhhh. This is hell I sometimes wish I was a male. I hoping that the natural way will help before I get surgery to end this nightmare. It's so much the vag goes through with fibroids. My back hurts leg hurt I feel so much pressure on my right side. The pain has me ready to take out everything just live a normal life. My life is not the same. They make it seem like women live with this with an ease but that too is lie.

  • VirginiaNovember 8, 2022 at 2:01 pm

    I started getting chemicals at age 18 wasn't aware of fibroids forming because of the chemicals I have had uterine fibroid embolization I'm now 62 and have had to have ultra sounds to see how much they have grown I have back pain ,leg pain,and causes me to use the restroom frequently.not sure if I'll have to get a hysterectomy in the near future.

  • sharronNovember 7, 2022 at 4:38 pm

    i had surgery due to a chemical fibroid and had to have a urinary bag

  • NakiaNovember 7, 2022 at 11:46 am

    I am 40 years old. I have used relaxers since I was 6 years old. In 2018 I was diagnosed with fibroids in my uterus and underwent a full hysterectomy. It broke my heart because at the time my boyfriend and I wanted to try for a baby. To this day I am still trying to adjust to this new normal. Had I or my mother known this would be the outcome, needless to say that we would not have used relaxers.

  • DyaneNovember 6, 2022 at 4:44 pm

    I have had fibroids since I was 30 I am now 67 years old. I have been and still do use the dark n lovely and some of the other pems mentioned for years not knowing it could cause me harm I have to see my doctor every 2 years to make sure the fibroids don't turn into cancer I have them and now real bad pain in my pelvic area as well as sometimes back pain

  • LakeyaNovember 6, 2022 at 5:49 am

    33 year old female. Got my first relaxer at a young age of 3-4. Dealt with fibroids from ages 21-27, when I was eventually told that a hysterectomy was my only safe option.

  • TamiekaNovember 3, 2022 at 12:23 am

    I Ms Tamieka Stephens have been extremely using straightener hair products. Optimum Care perm, dark and lovely perms hair straightener.previously I have been experiencing uterine fibroids and heavy bleeding and infertility after my second child. I have not been able to conceive after my second child which I conceived at the age of 19 years of age. I never understood why I have never been able to c[Show More]I Ms Tamieka Stephens have been extremely using straightener hair products. Optimum Care perm, dark and lovely perms hair straightener.previously I have been experiencing uterine fibroids and heavy bleeding and infertility after my second child. I have not been able to conceive after my second child which I conceived at the age of 19 years of age. I never understood why I have never been able to conceive children after age 19 until now that I have knowledge of this discovery about the straightener hair products that I have been using for 30 years. I feel that I have been a victim of these products. And would like to speak to someone about filing a claim against manufacturer responsible for my fertility disorder. Please contact Ms Tamieka Stephens at 404-914-7490

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