So-called relaxers or straight permanent products have been shown to greatly increase the risk of developing uterine cancer, a new American study shows. The researchers believe that the discovery may be particularly relevant for black women.
An American study shows that relaxers or straightening products can double the risk of developing uterine cancer, the American authority National Institutes of Health writes in a press release.
Can double the risk of uterine cancer
The study, which has been given the title Sister Study, has followed nearly 33,500 American women ages 35 to 74 over the past eleven years to identify risk factors for breast cancer and other diseases. During this time, 378 of the women were diagnosed with uterine cancer.
It turned out that the women who regularly (more than four times a year) used straightening products, so-called relaxers, ran a significantly greater risk of contracting the disease – in fact, regular use of these products more than doubled the risk of contracting of uterine cancer:
“We estimated that 1.64% of women who never used [rakpermanent-produkter] developed uterine cancer at age 70; but for frequent users, the risk increases to 4.05%,” says Alexandra White, lead author of the new study.
“This doubling is worrying. However, it is important to place this information in the right context – uterine cancer is a relatively rare type of cancer.”
Researchers: “May Be Even More Relevant for Black Women”
Previous studies have shown that permanent straightening products contain hormone-disrupting substances that have been associated with higher risks of breast and ovarian cancer. Scientists believe that these enter the bloodstream via the scalp and then reach the uterus, increasing the risk of cancer.
Che-Jung Chang, one of the study’s authors, points out that the findings may be particularly relevant to black women:
“Because black women use straightening or relaxer products more frequently and tend to start using them at younger ages than others, these findings may be even more relevant to them,” she says.
Facts about uterine cancer
Uterine body cancer, or corpus cancer, is the most common gynecological cancer and affects 1300-1400 women every year in Sweden. The disease mainly affects people who have passed the menopause – it is unusual to get uterine cancer before the age of 40.
Symptoms of uterine cancer can be:
– Bleeding even though you have stopped menstruating.
– Changed discharge when you are in menopause or after you have stopped having periods.
– Changed periods before menopause or when you are in menopause. Changed periods can be, for example, that you bleed more than usual or that the period lasts longer.
According to Vårdguiden, it is unusual for uterine cancer to hurt, but pain can be a symptom for people who have previously received treatment for, for example, prolapse or cell changes in the cervix.
It is worth noting that the above symptoms can have other causes than cancer – occasional bleeding in the first year after the last period is often due to the ovaries still producing hormones.