How EDCs in Hair Relaxers May Cause Endometriosis: Understanding the Link & Your Legal Options

Woman receiving chemical hair relaxer.

As of March 2023, dozens of lawsuits are pending against hair relaxer manufacturers in multidistrict litigation (MDL). Women who have used chemical hair straighteners regularly for years have been diagnosed with endometriosis, uterine fibroids, or uterine cancer, conditions that affect their reproductive health and quality of life. HHR is investigating hair relaxer injuries and helping women who suffered from these products to pursue compensation. In this article, we will explain how endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) might cause endometriosis, a disease that affects nearly 200 million women globally.

Endometriosis Harms Reproductive Health

Endometriosis is a condition in which the tissue that lines the inside of the uterus (endometrium) grows outside of it, such as on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, or intestines. This tissue responds to hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle, causing it to bleed and form cysts or adhesions that irritate nearby organs. The symptoms of endometriosis include painful menstrual cramps, heavy periods, pain during sex, bowel movements, or urination, and chronic pelvic pain. Infertility is also a common complication of endometriosis, affecting up to 50% of women with the disease.

How Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals Might Cause Endometriosis

EDCs are chemicals that interfere with the endocrine system, which regulates hormones in the body. EDCs can mimic or block naturally occurring hormones, or alter their production, transport, or metabolism, leading to adverse health effects. EDCs are found in many consumer products, such as plastics, pesticides, cosmetics, and food containers. They can also be released into the environment, such as in air or water pollution.

The exact mechanism by which EDCs cause endometriosis is not fully understood, but several hypotheses have been proposed. One theory is that EDCs can activate estrogen receptors on the endometrial cells, causing them to grow and survive in abnormal locations. Another theory is that EDCs can dysregulate the immune system, allowing endometrial cells to escape surveillance and implant in other organs.

Long-Term Prognosis for Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a chronic disease that can have a profound impact on a woman’s life. It is associated with infertility, chronic pain, and reduced quality of life. Because EDCs can embed in fat tissue, they can be stored and released into the bloodstream over time, triggering harmful effects long after the initial exposure. Although surgery can remove the endometrial tissue, it often recurs and requires repeat surgeries. Hormonal treatments, such as birth control pills or progestins, can alleviate the symptoms but have side effects and do not cure the disease. More research is needed to understand the causes and treatment options for endometriosis.

In other words, affected women have to live endometriosis permanently.

Hair relaxer manufacturers have a duty of care to their customers. If they marketed and sold products that contained EDCs without warning about their potential health risks, they must be held liable for the harm caused. Victims of hair relaxer injuries may be entitled to compensation for their past and future medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and other damages.

At HHR, we are committed to helping women who have suffered from hair relaxer injuries to seek justice and accountability. Contact us today at (888) 498-3023 for a free consultation.

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