Are hair relaxers safe? Ayanna Pressley and Shontel Brown Grill The FDA for answers

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UNITED STATES – NOVEMBER 19: From left, Del. Stacey Plaskett, DV.I., Reps. Shontel Brown, D-Ohio, Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., and Cori Bush, D-Mo.,

We’ve all read the disturbing headlines linking chemical hair straighteners, such as relaxers, to an increased risk of uterine cancer. And while it’s pretty easy to panic and shut down the news, two black congresswomen on Capitol Hill are searching for answers.

In an exclusive letter obtained by The carrotRepresentatives Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and Shontel Brown (D-OH) asked the Food and Drug Administration to review the safety of chemical hair straighteners.

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“We are writing to request that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) conduct a thorough and transparent investigation to determine whether publicly available chemical hair straightening products contain carcinogens that lead to a higher risk of uterine cancer,” Pressley and Brown write. “Black women are more likely to use these products than others and may be disproportionately affected. To protect public health, we are urging the FDA to re-evaluate the safety of these products.”

Pressley, who opened up publicly to The carrot about having alopecia in 2020 know all about the pressure put on black women to make their hair look a certain way. The fact that these pressures can seriously damage our health needs to be explored, say Pressley and Brown.

“As a result of anti-black hair sentiment, black women have been unfairly scrutinized and forced to navigate the extreme politicization of hair,” they write. “That’s why generations of black women have adapted by styling their hair in an effort to achieve social and economic advancement. Manufacturers of chemical hair straighteners have made huge profits, but recent findings reveal potentially significant negative health consequences of these products.”

The research into the possible health effects of chemical hair straighteners has not been pretty. In October, the National Institute of Health released a study showing that people who used chemical hair straighteners frequently (more than four times a year) were more than twice as likely to get uterine cancer as people who didn’t use them.

But you don’t have to look only at general studies linking chemical hair straighteners to cancer to worry about the types of hair products marketed to black women.

A separate study from the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health found that harmful chemicals were present in 50 percent of hair products marketed to black women, compared to only 7 percent of products marketed to black women. non-black women.

The number of uterine cancers is on the rise, especially among black women. And a March report from The American College of Obstetricians found that black women were twice as likely to die from uterine cancer as white women.

It’s far too early to put those disparities at the feet of chemical relaxers, but Pressley and Brown believe that if these products are part of the problem, public awareness should be raised.

“Consumers need to be sure that the cosmetic products they use do not threaten their health,” write Pressley and Brown. “It is critical that the agency act quickly to address these legitimate concerns.”

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Are hair relaxers safe? Ayanna Pressley and Shontel Brown Grill The FDA for answers

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