American Woman Files Lawsuit Against L’Oreal Claiming Hair-Straightening Chemicals Are Linked To Her Cancer


Cosmetics company L’Oreal, along with several other parties, are being sued over claims that their hair straightening chemicals put women at increased risk of uterine cancer.

Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, attorney Diandra “Fu” Debrosse Zimmermann and others filed a lawsuit Friday in Illinois on behalf of Jenny Mitchell, a 32-year-old Missouri resident, claiming the Mitchell’s uterine cancer “had been caused directly and nearby by her regular and prolonged condition”. exposure to phthalates and other endocrine-disrupting chemicals found in defendants’ hair care products. »

CNN has reached out to L’Oreal, Namaste Laboratories LLC, Dabur International Ltd. and Godrej Consumer Products, parent company of the Just For Me brand, for comment.

Debrosse Zimmermann told CNN on Monday that the lawsuit marks a “watershed moment” for women of color who have used hair-straightening chemicals, such as relaxers.

At a press conference on Monday, Mitchell said she remembers buying hair straighteners around third grade, when she was around 8 years old.

Mitchell was diagnosed with uterine cancer on August 10, 2018, according to the lawsuit, and underwent a full hysterectomy at Boone Hospital Center in Missouri on September 24, 2018.

“At that time, at the age of 28, my dreams of becoming a mother were gone,” she said. In the lawsuit, she claims to have no family history of cancer or uterine cancer.

“Like most young African American girls, chemical relaxers, chemical straighteners were introduced to us at a young age,” Mitchell said. “Society has made it a norm to look a certain way, in order to feel a certain way. no longer the case”.

Mitchell continued to use hair straightening chemicals from around 2000 until March 2022, and she is seeking compensation in excess of $75,000, according to the lawsuit.

Two other individual cases have been filed — in California and New York — against cosmetics companies, including L’Oreal, claiming a link between hair-straightening chemicals and cancer diagnoses, Debrosse Zimmermann said.

“We imagine that we will continue to represent more women in filings, just like other companies, and more and more women will come forward,” she said.

Mitchell’s lawsuit was filed just days after a study was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, which estimates that in women who frequently use skin-smoothing chemicals, the risk of developing uterine cancer at age 70 is about 4%. In women who have not used skin-smoothing chemicals in the past 12 months, the study estimates a 1.6% risk of developing uterine cancer by age 70.

Black women tend to use these hair straightening chemicals more frequently than white women, the researchers noted.

Study data showed that the association between hair straightening products and cases of uterine cancer was most pronounced among black women, who made up just 7.4% of participants in the study. study, but 59.9% of those who said they had ever used hair straighteners.

Several factors likely play a role in the frequent use of hair straightening products: Eurocentric beauty standards and social pressures on Black and Latina women in the workplace related to microaggressions and the threat of discrimination , as well as the desired versatility in changing hairstyles and self-expression.

“Black women have long been victims of dangerous products marketed specifically to them,” Crump said in a press release. “Black hair has been and always will be beautiful, but black women have been told that they must use these products to meet societal standards. We will probably find that the tragic case of Mrs. Mitchell is one of countless in which corporations aggressively deceived black women to increase their profits.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *