Dec 13, 2022

Dark & Lovely Hair Relaxer Caused Endometrial Cancer Diagnosis, Lawsuit Alleges

Posted by : Irvin Jackson

Regular use of Dark & Lovely hair relaxer caused endometrial cancer diagnosis after an Illinois woman applied the chemical straightener to her scalp for decades.

  • Dark & Lovely has been marketed as safe and effect for decades, targeting black women
  • Studies have found a link between chemicals in the hair relaxer and cancer
  • Illinois woman indicates that Dark & Lovely hair relaxer caused endometrial cancer diagnosis in June 2022, after she regularly used the product since she was 9 years old
  • Case joins a growing number of similar hair relaxer lawsuits being pursued by women nationwide, alleging manufacturers have known about the risk for decades

According to allegations raised in a recently filed lawsuit, side effects of Dark & Lovely hair relaxer caused an Illinois woman to develop endometrial cancer, indicating the manufacturers failed to disclose known risks associated with the chemical hair straightener.

Ladonna Mahaffey filed the complaint (PDF) in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois on December 12, claiming her endometrial cancer diagnosis was a direct result of exposure to phthalates and other endocrine disrupting chemicals in Dark & Lovely hair relaxer, which she regularly applied to her scalp.

The case joins a growing number of similar hair relaxer lawsuits being pursued by women throughout the United States against the makers of Dark & Lovely, as well as other chemical hair straighteners and perms, which have been marketed as safe and effective for Black women to use for decades. However, recent studies have found the products contain a number of toxic endocrine-disrupting chemicals known to pose a number of long-term side effects, which were never disclosed to consumers.

Hair Relaxer Lawsuits

Regular exposure to chemicals in hair relaxers may cause uterine cancer, breast cancer, and other injuries. Women diagnosed with cancer may be eligible for settlement benefits.

Mahaffey indicates she used Dark & Lovely hair relaxer for decades, beginning when she was just nine years old in 1986, and continuing through at least 2007. However, in June 2022 she was diagnosed with endometrial cancer.

“Ms. Mahaffey used Defendants’ Products by applying this to her scalp or by having a professional at a hair salon apply Defendants’ Products exactly as instructed by Defendants,” the lawsuit states. “There was never any indication, on the Products packaging or otherwise, that this normal use could and would cause her to develop endometrial cancer.”

According to the lawsuit, Mahaffey developed endometrial cancer and endometriosis at the age of 36, resulting in the need for a full and complete hysterectomy.

Endometrial Cancer and Hair Relaxers

Endometrial cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the uterus, and it is the most common type of uterine cancer. It typically develops slowly over time, and symptoms may not be noticeable until the disease is at an advanced stage. Common symptoms may include vaginal bleeding, pain in the pelvic area, and bloating.

Lawsuits over the link between endometrial cancer and hair relaxer products began to emerge earlier this year after a study found that frequent users of products like Dark & Lovely faced a 156% increased risk of developing uterine cancer.

In October 2022, findings were published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, which warned that ingredients used in the chemical hair relaxers may cause uterine cancer. Researchers from the National Institute of Environmental Health reviewed data on nearly 34,000 women in the United States between the ages of 35 and 74 who completed questionnaires on their use of multiple hair products, including hair dyes, straighteners, relaxers, or pressing products, and permanents or body waves. A 10-year follow-up on the incident rate of uterine cancer diagnosis was performed.

According to the results, researchers identified 378 cases of endometrial cancer or uterine cancer, finding participants who used hair straightening products at least once had the highest rate of cancer diagnosis compared to any other hair products involved in the study. They also had a higher rate of uterine cancer when compared to women who used no hair straightener products.

December 2022 Hair Relaxer Lawsuit Update

Given similar allegations raised in dozens of similar lawsuits brought over the past few months, a motion is pending in the federal court system to consolidate all hair relaxer lawsuits as part of a federal MDL, or multidistrict litigation. This would centralize the claim filed by Mahaffey with claims brought in other U.S. District Courts nation for coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings.

Last week, the makers of Dark & Lovely and other similar products filed documents opposing the establishment of one hair relaxer MDL, arguing that there are too many different products involved in the litigation and individualized facts to warrant centralization.

The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation is expected to make a decision about how the claims will proceed during a hearing session set for January 26, in Miami, Florida.

Tags: Breast Cancer, Cancer, Chemicals, Class Action, Dark & Lovely, Endometrial Cancer, Endometriosis, Hair Straighteners, L’Oreal, Phthalates, Uterine Cancer, Uterine Fibroid Removal

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Irvin Jackson