Chemical hair straighteners have now been linked to an increase in multiple different forms of reproductive cancers in women, and investigators are still trying to figure out which chemicals in these products are causing cancer. With a multitude of compounds in these products, it is difficult to pinpoint which is causing cancer, but researchers have determined that the cause is definitely there. Ring of Fire’s Farron Cousins talks with attorney Chelsie Green about what’s happening.

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*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.

Farron Cousins:                  New studies have come out showing that chemical hair straighteners are actually increasing the risks of certain cancers developing in women. Joining me to talk about this is attorney Chelsie Green. Chelsie, this is very terrifying actually what we’re seeing here. Chemical hair straighteners, all kinds of different chemicals in them. Bunch of different manufacturers.

Chelsie Green:                    Absolutely.

Farron Cousins:                  But right now the studies are quite terrifying. So what are these new studies telling us about what these chemical hair straighteners are doing with women?

Chelsie Green:                    Absolutely. So what these studies are telling us is that chemicals in these hair relaxers and these chemical straighteners are causing reproductive cancers in women, specifically ovarian cancer and uterine cancer, and also looking at studies that have the, relate the causation to breast cancer.

Farron Cousins:                  Well, it, it’s very interesting here because again, there’s lots of different chemicals in these straighteners and these relaxers. So, so far we haven’t been able to pinpoint what is causing this increased risk. But when you look at the studies, the risk is obvious.

Chelsie Green:                    Exactly. So what we are taking a look at are the phthalates in the chemical hair straighteners as well as the formaldehyde. We are targeting those chemicals, but as you stated already, there’s a ton of chemicals in these products that contribute to these cancers.

Farron Cousins:                  And one of the things we also see from these studies is the racial disparities.

Chelsie Green:                    Correct.

Farron Cousins:                  Obviously, these are products that black women are using, you know, more so than, than white women. So the increase in cancer rate is absolutely astronomical. You know, compared, we’re talking about, about a 4%, a little over 4% cancer rate in women using these products regularly.

Chelsie Green:                    Correct.

Farron Cousins:                  Versus about a 1% chance for those who never use them. That’s a big jump.

Chelsie Green:                    Correct. Almost, well doubling, little over doubling the percentage of African American women developing a cancer over those who won’t necessarily have this exposure to these chemical hair straighteners. As you probably are aware, beauty standards in society have told women that straighter hair would be better. So African American women, some Latino women, usually women with textured hair are going to this market. They’re leaning in on these products, helping them to feel better about themselves. But ultimately now these chemicals are harming them.

Farron Cousins:                  You know, reading through this material and listening to you, you know, tell that part of the story, it reminds me a lot of the talcum powder cancer stories.

Chelsie Green:                    Right.

Farron Cousins:                  Because we saw so much of that with the marketing of talc, even when they knew it was dangerous, going towards minority women, going towards low income women. There’s a chance, and obviously this is super new project, right?

Chelsie Green:                    Correct.

Farron Cousins:                  So we’re, we’re still digging into this.

Chelsie Green:                    Absolutely.

Farron Cousins:                  But I, it wouldn’t surprise me once we get into this and we see the companies involved and we see the marketing, I think we’re gonna see something very similar to what we saw with talc.

Chelsie Green:                    Absolutely. I agree totally on the disparity between non-African American users and those of African descent using these products. It’s going to be a huge difference. Huge difference.

Farron Cousins:                  So, Chelsie, real quick, how can women find out more information about this? Is there any place they can go? Because obviously this is a big thing and they need to stay tuned to this because again, we’ve learned a lot, but there is still so much more to learn. So, so where can women go right now?

Chelsie Green:                    Absolutely. So definitely visit our website. We intend to distribute more information as it becomes available to us. We wanna make sure that it’s made aware to the public on how these chemical relaxers are affecting women. So, stay tuned into our website. If you feel like you’ve been affected by these cancers or these chemical products, please give us a call because we’re here to help.

Farron Cousins:                  Thank you very much, Chelsie Green. Obviously, as we learn more, we’re gonna bring you back on to help give us updates. But in the meantime, thank you for all the work you do. It was great talking with you.

Chelsie Green:                    Thank you. Same.