Ben Crump
**FILE** Attorney Ben Crump (NNPA Newswire)

Researchers have discovered that hair products used predominately by Black women are likely to contain hazardous chemicals with endocrine-disrupting and carcinogenic properties.

Armed with that information and research by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, civil rights attorney Ben Crump joined forces with lawyer Diandra “Fu” Debrosse Zimmermann to file a lawsuit against beauty products giant L’Oréal USA.

Crump and Zimmermann filed the suit on behalf of Jenny Mitchell, a woman with no family history of cancer but who received a uterine cancer diagnosis after years of using L’Oréal products.

The lawyers declared that the defendants also would include “entities that assisted in the development, marketing, and sale of the defective products including Motions, Dark & Lovely, Olive Oil Relaxer, and Organic Root Stimulator.”

“Black women have long been told they must use chemical hair straightening products to meet society’s standards,” Crump declared. “Companies took advantage of this and marketed their dangerous products to women without any regard for the serious health risks. We need justice.”

Crump said Mitchell started using the products around 2000 and continued until 2022. 

In August 2018, Mitchell – with no family history of uterine or other cancer – was diagnosed with uterine cancer and underwent a complete hysterectomy, Crump noted.

Mitchell attended mandatory medical appointments every three months for two years and has appointments scheduled every six months. 

Crump cited a new study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute this week.

The study concluded that frequent users of chemical hair straightening products, defined in the study as more than four uses a year, were more than twice as likely to develop uterine cancer than those who didn’t use those products. 

The National Institute of Health’s National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences conducted the study.

Uterine cancer rates and deaths are reportedly on the rise in the U.S. 

Death rates are highest among non-Hispanic Black women, who are more likely than other populations to be afflicted with aggressive subtypes of uterine cancer, according to the National Institutes of Health, which tracked data from 34,000 women in the Sister Study for more than a decade.

“Black women have long been the victims of dangerous products specifically marketed to them,” said Crump. “Black hair has been and always will be beautiful, but Black women have been told they have to use these products to meet society’s standards. Unfortunately, we will likely discover that Ms. Mitchell’s tragic case is one of the countless cases in which companies aggressively misled black women to increase their profits.”

Chemical hair straighteners typically contain products associated with higher cancer risk, including formaldehyde, metals, phthalates, and parabens, which may be more easily absorbed by the body through scalp burns and abrasions often caused by chemical straighteners, study authors determined.

Zimmermann added that companies like L’Oréal “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.”

“We have commenced this important litigation to seek and obtain justice for those women and their families.”  

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Stacy M. Brown is a senior writer for The Washington Informer and the senior national correspondent for the Black Press of America. Stacy has more than 25 years of journalism experience and has authored...

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19 Comments

  1. Thanks so much for this informative article and litigation on behalf of the dangers especially to African American women disproportionately adversely affected by uterine cancer and baldness.

  2. Yes hi my name is Tracey Williams and I use dark and lovely for years damn my hair in 2009 I had a hysterectomy cuz I had a tumor and I believe mine’s was related to that too cuz same thing that lady said on the news about they had seen something they had to biopsy they did the same thing to me so I want in

  3. I used chemical hair straighting products since 1977. Had a hysterectomy in 2010, and breast cancer in 2020. How can I get in the lawsuit?

  4. I also have used dark & lovely relaxers for years since my teenage years, and had a full hysterectomy in 2019. I would like to join in on this lawsuit.

  5. I too used these hair relaxing products since I was a child. At age 52 I developed rare anal cancer. I would like to join this lawsuit if it becomes a class action lawsuit.

  6. I use their relaxer years , their hairdyes and even their curl bounce back moisterizer. At age 65, in May of 2022, I was diagnose with Endometrium cancer . There are no one in my family with history of such cancer. I would like to join this Class Action suite

  7. I’ve had a total hysterectomy at 45 yrs. due to massive fibroid and ovarian cyst. I have been using relaxers (dark and lovely, Motions, soft and beautiful, etc…) since about 7 yrs. old. I am now 54 and will be transitioning too natural.

  8. Hi my daughter just recently got a perm last month for her 16th birthday. I wonder if this applies to her. How can I get more information?

  9. Hello, I too used all of the relaxers etc…. and have had several female issues to include having to have a hysterectomy in 2017. This is really sad that our bodies have been sacrificed for their financial gain. Please contact me via sjackson3408@gmail.com if this becomes a class action. I really think it should be. This is ridiculous!!!

    1. I talked to an attorney already and he said this wont be a class action lawsuit. it will be an actual case

  10. I am 72 yrs. old. I have been relaxing my hair since I was about 19 years old. Had a hysterectomy at 43 yrs. old due to fibroid tumors. Definitely wondering if the fibroid tumors were. caused by chemical relaxers.

  11. @bencrump I am a 5 time triple negative breast cancer Metavivor 1996, 2004, 2006, 2007 stg4, and 2015. Have been using hair straighteners all my life. My life is forever changed. Please include me in your lawsuit.
    Yvette Griffin
    347-631-4102
    ylgriffin2@gmail.com

  12. I would like to get some information about this lawsuit because I use all types of black straightened products and soft sheen curls since I was 2 years old and now I’m 45 and had a lot of my females parts taken out…

  13. Good afternoon, I would like more information in reference to this litigation. I’ve used these products mainly Revlon, dark and lovely and gentle treatment since the age of 16. I am now 82 and I was told I have breast cancer. This was a surprise to me as no one in my family had cancer and it’s such a late stage in life. I’ve had to have a bilateral mastectomy and would like to investigate why.

  14. I like to have information on how to join the lawsuit I just now heard about this. Because Of fibroid tumors I’m no longer able to have children and my uterus was removed!

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