Does relaxing your hair cause breast cancer?

Some hair dye and hair straightening products like relaxers, contain chemicals called endocrine disruptors that can interfere with your hormones. This hormone disruption is a concern, especially when it comes to hormone-driven cancers like breast, prostate, and ovarian cancers but what does this mean for black women? Are relaxers putting our health at risk?

Many hair products contain endocrine‐disrupting compounds and carcinogens potentially relevant to breast cancer. Products used predominantly by black women may contain more hormonally‐active compounds which is why it’s important to know the facts about what you put on your hair and how often. However, there is also a lot of fear-mongering and also everything has a study that shows a heightened negative impact on black women. The problem is, there is seldom substantial information to back the fear-inducing headline.

The causal link between cancer and chemical straighteners is something that has been discussed for decades but still not proven. Does this mean to ignore all the talk? No, this means we need to be a little more mindful about the products we buy, the ingredients within them, and how often we use them. This does not mean that we should start making our own homemade concoctions in an attempt to evade cancer.

Here are a few tips on how to manage fears induced by the media:

1. Don’t believe fake news.

If there isn’t any evidence to prove a claim, dismiss it. Ask questions and dig for real answers and most importantly, make the necessary changes.

2. Document any abnormal experiences

If you are experiencing any weird changes, track them in a diary and take them to a healthcare practitioner for help.

3. Be proactive

Self-check regularly, get preventative screenings, including mammograms and make sure your lifestyle supports your health

4. Take care of your emotional well being

Our emotional well being has a severe impact on our overall well being. Stress can quickly put a strain on our physical health and cause physiological reactions like hair loss, insomnia, and paranoia just to name a few. It’s important to get enough rest so we don’t create something out of anything.

5. Don’t delay

If you document abnormalities that persist, visit your GP. If it’s a scalp issue, see your dermatologist but do something. Don’t sit in silence and don’t let fear paralyse you. Take your concerns to someone who knows more than you so you can get the help you need.

It’s easy to get caught up in all the warnings and not know what step to take next so as a rule of thumb, take a deep breath and remember to always find out the truth before letting your imagination run wild.

There are very few known causes of breast cancer but relaxing your hair has not proven to be one of them.

Love, MPL


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