Health Medical

L’Oreal facing lawsuit for selling cancer-causing hair straightening products


HQ Team

October 26, 2022: L’Oreal SA, the French cosmetic company, is facing a lawsuit from a Missouri woman who alleges she developed uterine cancer from using the company’s hair-straightening products.

The lawsuit has been filed on behalf of Jennifer Mitchell, 32, in the federal court in Chicago. It claims Mitchell’s uterine cancer “was directly and proximately caused by her regular and prolonged exposure to phthalates and other endocrine disrupting chemicals found in Defendants’ hair care products.”

Mitchell said she was diagnosed with uterine cancer in 2018 and had to undergo a hysterectomy. She was using L’Oreal’s products since about 2000, when she was 10. She is asking for unspecified monetary damages for losing her chance of becoming a mother and to pay for medical monitoring.

Uterine cancer risk

The lawsuit comes just days after a study from the US National Institute of Environmental Health Safety (NIEHS) found that hair-straightening products may significantly increase the risk of uterine cancer among women. The incidence of cancer was found to be higher in black women as they use such hair products more regularly.

Civil rights attorney Ben Crump is representing Mitchell. He claims 95% of all Black women use chemical relaxers or straighteners and cited the National Institutes of Health study to bolster the claim that women who use chemical hair straighteners face a higher risk of developing uterine cancer.

NIEHS researcher Che-Jung Chang said that the new study should be an eye-opener for black women, particularly because they tend to use hair straighteners from an earlier age. The lawsuit states, “The fact that these companies targeted Black and Latin women for their own profit motive and without regard to the serious health risks that these hair-straightening products cause is a serious wrong that needs to be corrected.”

“As most young African-American girls, chemical relaxers, chemical straighteners were introduced to us at a young age,” Mitchell said at a press conference. “Society has made it a norm to look a certain way, in order to feel a certain way. And I am the first voice of many voices to come that will stand, stand up to these companies, and say, ‘No more.’”

Two other individual cases have been filed in California and New York against cosmetic companies, including L’Oreal, claiming a connection between chemical hair-straightening products and cancer diagnoses.

Uterine cancer is the fourth most common cancer for women in the United States. Worldwide, an estimated 417,367 people were diagnosed with uterine cancer in 2020. It is the sixth most common cause of cancer death among women in the United States. Uterine cancer is more common in Black women than White women, and Black women are more likely to die from the disease, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). 

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