Black women may be exposed to dozens of harmful hormone-disrupting chemicals in hair products marketed specifically for them, according a study published in Environmental Research. Adverse health effects that could be related to this exposure include higher rates of early puberty, infertility, pre-term birth, and uterine fibroids. Exposure to these harmful chemicals also may explain rising rates of breast cancer and endometrial cancer in African-American women.
For this study, researchers at the Silent Spring Institute in Newton, Massachusetts, selected 18 hair products, based on a survey of black women about their product use, including hot oil treatments, anti-frizz hair polishes, leave-in conditioners, root stimulators, hair lotions, and hair relaxers. The researchers tested for 66 endocrine disruptors – some regulated in the United States and prohibited in Europe – associated with health effects like reproductive disorders, birth defects, asthma, and cancer.
The researchers detected a total of 45 endocrine disruptors in the hair products, and each product contained between 6 and 30 of the chemicals. Although these potentially harmful chemicals are found in other personal care products too, hair products marketed to black women contain higher levels of them, the researchers report.
Diane is a Senior Content Producer at Remedy Health Media, LLC. She writes the Daily Dose for HealthCentral and is the editorial director at HealthCommunities. Her goal is to contribute to a valuable, trustworthy, and informative experience for people who are searching for health information online.