WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- A Missouri woman is suing L’Oréal and other cosmetics companies, alleging the hair products caused her uterine cancer.
- Researchers are studying whether Black women are at a unique risk for health problems from hair products.
- No research shows diethylphthalate, the phthalate common in beauty products, has been linked to cancer.
A Missouri woman who claims that she contracted uterine cancer after using L’Oreal hair straightening products is suing the company.
The plaintiff, Jennifer Mitchell, filed the civil lawsuit on Friday in an Illinois federal court. She alleges that her cancer diagnosis “was directly and proximately caused by her regular and prolonged exposure to phthalates and other endocrine disrupting chemicals” found in L’Oreal hair products.
Mitchell said in the lawsuit that she had used the products for over twenty years before she was diagnosed with uterine cancer. She had to undergo a full hysterectomy, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit was filed just days after a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute determined a link between the usage of chemical hair straightening products and uterine cancer development.
According to the study, women who used hair straightening products more than four times a year were more than twice as likely to develop uterine cancer compared with others who did not use the products. There were 33,497 participants in the study, with ages ranging from 35 to 74, who were evaluated over the course of nearly 11 years. 378 participants were diagnosed with uterine cancer, according to the study.
Uterine cancer is rising in the United States, particularly among Black women.
“Black women have long been the victims of dangerous products specifically marketed to them,” Ben Crump, a civil rights and personal injury attorney for Mitchell, said in a statement.
Mitchell, who is Black, is seeking damages from the U.S. branch of L’Oreal.
“We will likely discover that Ms. Mitchell’s tragic case is one of countless cases in which companies aggressively misled Black women to increase their profits,” Crump said.
Diandra Debrosse Zimmermann, a lawyer for Mitchell, said her firm has been contacted by other clients in similar circumstances. She added that there would likely be more lawsuits in the future, as “many women will be coming forward in the coming weeks and months to seek accountability.”