Jenny Mitchell first started using chemicals straighten hair products back in 2000 when she was in third grade, and nearly 20 years later, the 32-year-old claims it was the cause of her developing cervical cancer.
Mitchell had to undergo a total hysterectomy to remove her uterus, although the disease was not a family history Good morning America.
She now says she was deprived of the chance to become a mother.
‘Dream’ of motherhood shattered for young woman who required hysterectomy due to chemicals in hair straighteners, lawsuits
“Not being able to carry my own kids was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with,” she told GMA. “It’s a dream of mine that I’ve always wanted.”
Mitchell is now represented by a group of attorneys including Ben Crump, who is suing five hair straightening manufacturers, including L’Oreal USA, claiming their products caused her uterine cancer The shadow room reported last month.
The lawsuit, filed in Illinois, comes a week after a recent one to learn published by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute and funded by the National Institutes of Health, found that frequent users of chemical hair straightening products were more likely to develop such cancers than those who did not use the products.
Jenny Mitchell said she first started using chemical hair straightening products in 2000 when she was in third grade.
Almost two decades later, Mitchell, now 32, was diagnosed with cervical cancer despite not having a family history of the disease. https://t.co/A6zNtL7Jd9
— Good Morning America (@GMA) October 25, 2022
So far, research only points to a probable link, as about 60 percent of the women in the study who reported using such hair relaxers were self-identified black women.
Mitchell said she was “shocked” to learn about the study.
“But at the same time, I also thought that maybe this could be an answer to my diagnosis,” she said.
The problem is widespread among women of color, who use such products in larger numbers, studies show
Mitchell, a black woman, said many women like her face societal pressures to use hair relaxers, which she says means using them every four weeks to meet American beauty standards, she said.
“As an African American woman, it’s the societal norm for your hair to look a certain way,” she said. “‘Don’t wear your natural hair because it looks unprofessional.’ A lot of women deal with it in all sorts of situations.”
She added, “I hope to be the voice for millions of other African American women out there because we start so young and get these chemical relaxants in our hair.”
African Pride hair straighteners on display at a Harlem store. (Photo by Gideon Mendel/Corbis via Getty Images)
The other unnamed companies did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment, the outlet reports.
Cervical cancer rates and deaths have risen nationwide in recent years, with death rates remaining highest among non-Hispanic black women, the institute found after tracking data from 34,000 women in the Sister Study for more than a decade.
Overall, the Sister Study project has followed the health of around 50,000 women across the country since 2003.
Study shows hair straighteners have endocrine disruptors that affect hormone-sensitive cancers
The study specifically noted that chemical hair straighteners usually contain products known as endocrine disruptors that can affect hormone-sensitive cancers, the outlet said.
These products include parabens, bisphenol A, metals, and formaldehyde, according to researchers at the NIH study.
Such relaxants can even cause burns and lesions on the scalp, making them easier for the body to absorb, says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Madeline Gainers.
And black women are twice as likely to die from cervical cancer than white women, the study shows.
However, the researchers involved in the new student said “more research is needed” to determine whether hair-smoothing chemicals have a direct link to an increased risk of uterine cancer.
A black Missouri woman is suing L’Oreal, saying its hair straightening products caused cervical cancer.
Black women are more likely to use straighteners, which studies link to a high risk of uterine cancer. Black women are twice as likely to die from cervical cancer as white women. pic.twitter.com/4IJ6mxolLQ
— AJ+ (@ajplus) October 25, 2022
Attorney Crump Hope’s lawsuit will raise awareness of dangerous chemicals in hair straighteners
The study found that the link between the products and cervical cancer is something directly caused by each other – something Mitchell will have to prove in court.
Meanwhile, Crump hopes the lawsuit will raise awareness about the harmful chemicals in hair straighteners, allowing women to make more informed decisions about their health.
“Now that we have that knowledge, we have that information, it’s on us to bring it with us,” he said. “We must make this a public health crisis.”