Hair relaxers are chemical treatments used to straighten curly and wavy hair. Also known as permanent waving or thermal reconditioning, these products contain strong chemicals which can break disulphide bonds of the hair in order to make it smoother and straighter. Although these are considered harmless by many clients who go for hair treatments to acquire desired hair type, a new study has found that these can be extremely toxic and can even cause cancer.
The Allegations…. Nearly 60 lawsuits claiming that hair relaxer products sold by L’Oréal USA Inc, Godrej SON Holdings Inc, and Dabur International Ltd have caused cancer and other health problems are set to be consolidated in a federal court in Chicago. These lawsuits, which allege that the companies knew that their products contained harmful chemicals but still marketed and sold them, have been filed in federal courts across the country. The consolidation of these cases into a multidistrict litigation before US District Judge Mary Rowland will streamline discovery efforts and other pretrial issues.
Response from the companies.. L'Oréal USA Inc and its affiliated companies have expressed assurance in the safety of their products. They maintain that the lawsuits filed against them lack any legal basis and are, therefore, without merit. This declaration was published on the internet following the initial filing of lawsuits.
The Danger… The recent increase in lawsuits is a result of the publication of a study by the National Institutes of Health in October. The study found a correlation between the use of hair relaxer products and an increased risk of developing uterine cancer. Women who used these products several times a year were more than double the likelihood of developing the disease compared to those who never used them.
The study conducted by the National Institutes of Health found that the risk of developing uterine cancer increases with the frequency of use of hair straightener products. The study estimated that 1.64% of women who never used these products are expected to develop uterine cancer by the age of 70, while for frequent users, the risk increases to 4.05%. Uterine cancer is the most common gynecological cancer in the United States, and its occurrence is rising, particularly among Black women. As a result, these findings have led to the recent push for lawsuits against the manufacturers of these products.
Diandra Debrosse Zimmermann, an attorney from the law firm DiCello Levitt, is the person who filed the first case after the publication of the study. She predicts that many more firms will file similar cases in the near future. She believes that thousands of women may take legal action against these products, which are primarily targeted toward women of color. Debrosse Zimmermann considers the decision of the panel to consolidate these cases as a recognition of the advantages of centralizing the lawsuits related to hair relaxer products. According to her, this centralization is beneficial for all parties involved.