Relaxers and Fibroids: Can Hair Products Cause Fibroids?
Are you concerned about a possible connection between hair relaxers and fibroids? You may have seen headlines indicating that women who frequently use chemical hair relaxers (straightening products) are more likely to develop uterine fibroids, a type of non-cancerous growth that can develop within the uterus.
While there appears to be a connection between hair relaxers and uterine fibroids, do these products actually cause fibroids? The reality is that little scientific evidence exists to answer this question, which can be extremely frustrating for both doctors and patients alike.
Here’s what we do know: c hair relaxers can cause scalp burns or lesions, which allow harmful ingredients to enter the body. Hair relaxers and permanent dyes may also be linked to other health conditions, including breast cancer. It is alarming to see these headlines when such little research funding is allocated for uterine fibroids and other common women’s health issues. Finally, millions of African-American women regularly use or have used hair relaxers.
When it comes to uterine fibroids, studies show that women of African-American descent are disproportionately affected. In fact, they are two to three times more likely than white women to develop these benign tumors. African-American women are also more likely to:
- Be affected by fibroids at any early age
- Experience a delayed diagnosis
- Develop a greater number of fibroids
- Have fibroids with higher growth rates
- Experience more severe symptoms
- Be hospitalized due to fibroids
- Require blood transfusions due to heavy bleeding
- Treat fibroids with surgery
- Have complications from fibroid surgery
While it is unclear whether chemical hair relaxers cause fibroids or not, our experts at USA Fibroid Centers can offer useful tips on how to reduce known risk factors. Here’s what you should know about chemical relaxers and fibroids, along with where to seek specialized fibroid care.
Can Hair Relaxers Cause Fibroids?
The causes of uterine fibroids are not entirely understood. It is believed that both genetic and lifestyle influences play a role in fibroid growth. Women of childbearing age are most likely to have fibroids. You are also more likely to develop fibroids if you are overweight, inactive, diabetic, hypertensive, or smoke. Additionally, uterine fibroids tend to grow during pregnancy; therefore, it’s important to consult a fibroid specialist to determine a safe birth plan for you and your baby.
Although it is possible that hair relaxers may increase your risk of developing fibroids, there is little scientific evidence to prove a direct relationship. It’s important to communicate with your physician about any questions or concerns you have about your fibroids, diagnosis, or treatment.
The Relationship Between Natural Hair Care Products and Fibroids
While we are unable to say for certain if hair care products like chemical hair relaxers cause fibroids, we do know that women of African-American descent are more likely to use these products. When compared to other racial groups, Black women are also more likely to develop uterine fibroids. We want to stress the importance of getting checked for uterine fibroids, especially if you have risk factors or are experiencing painful, uncomfortable fibroid symptoms. Raising awareness about these potential risk factors helps women take control of their health.
How Do Hair Relaxers Cause Fibroids?
The first thing to understand is that fibroid growth tends to occur at times when hormone levels are higher. For instance, pregnant women experiencing an influx of hormones are more likely to experience fibroid growth; inversely, fibroids tend to shrink after childbirth or menopause when hormone levels are lower.
Chemical relaxers can cause scalp lesions and burns, which potentially allows endocrine-disrupting chemicals to enter the body. It is possible that some amount of these chemicals could impact hormone levels in the body. However, it is hard to say how much (or specifically which chemicals), since hair products and beauty products in general are largely unregulated.
Chemical Relaxers and Fibroids: The Impact
Out of an abundance of caution, some women choose to avoid chemical hair relaxers and instead embrace their natural curls, use alternative styling products, or chemically treat their hair less often. If you’re worried about your individual risk, talk to a fibroid specialist about any concerns you may have. That being said, there is certainly no harm in erring on the safe side by avoiding these types of products. However, we believe that there may be more impactful ways to reduce your risks of developing fibroids.
Some of these include:
- Maintain a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI)
- Eat a healthy, well-rounded diet
- Exercise at least 30 minutes a day, five days per week
- Don’t smoke or use other tobacco products
- Manage other underlying health conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes
While you may wish to avoid developing fibroids, we want you to understand that they are not usually considered dangerous. If you do develop fibroid symptoms that cause you to miss work, cancel social engagements, or avoid intimate relationships, we recommend treatment. Ultimately, we want women to understand that a painful, unpredictable period should not interfere with their daily routine.
Although many believe that hysterectomy is the only available option, this isn’t true. Fortunately, non-surgical, outpatient fibroid treatment exists that can alleviate painful symptoms and quickly get you back to normal daily activities.
Natural Hair Care Products Linked To Cancer
While researchers are still investigating these worrisome claims about fibroids and hair products, there may be other reasons to avoid chemical relaxers. Not only may they influence the growth of fibroids, but they also have been linked to certain types of cancer, including breast and ovarian. However, more research is needed to be conclusive to determine direct causation.
To reduce your potential risks for cancer and benign tumors like fibroids, it may be wise to cut back on permanent hair dye and straightening products. More importantly, we recommend adhering to a healthy lifestyle that includes proper nutrition and regular exercise.
Schedule a UFE Consultation with USA Fibroid Centers Today
The bottom line on chemical hair products and fibroids? Additional studies are needed to determine whether hair relaxers and other hair care products increase the likelihood of developing uterine fibroids.
If you are concerned about fibroids, we recommend visiting a fibroid specialist. At USA Fibroid Centers, we don’t want you to needlessly suffer from uncomfortable fibroid symptoms like heavy periods, severe cramps, and frequent urination. We also want to make sure you have all the information and options available to you so you can make the best decision for your lifestyle and body. Our fibroid specialists are passionate about educating women about their options so they can take control of their life.
We can help you learn about all available fibroid treatments, both surgical and non-surgical. Our specialists offer a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure called Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE). UFE can shrink your fibroids and alleviate painful symptoms, allowing you to avoid an expensive hospital stay and lengthy recovery period. Treatment takes less than an hour and most women are fully recovered within one to two weeks. Since UFE is a nonsurgical treatment, you are able to recover in the comfort of your own home and avoid stitches as well as general anesthesia.
To discover whether you are a good candidate for Uterine Fibroid Embolization, we encourage you to schedule an appointment online today. We offer dozens of fibroid center locations across the country, along with convenient telemedicine options. Whether you decide to book your initial consultation online or by calling (855) 615-2555, we look forward to seeing you there!