Hair Relaxers Won't Boost Black Women's Breast Cancer Risk

WEDNESDAY, May 30 (HealthDay News) -- Black women who routinely use hair relaxers can relax: The products will not increase their risk of breast cancer, a new study finds.

According to researchers reporting in the May issue of Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention, millions of women use hair relaxers. However, no research had yet been done as to whether the products may boost cancer risk. This is the first such study to examine the issue.

In the study, a team led by Lynn Rosenberg, of Boston University's Slone Epidemiology Center, analyzed 1997-2003 data from the Black Women's Health Study. That trial included 59,000 black women across the United States.

"In the present study of African-American women, increases in breast cancer risk were not associated with any categories of duration of hair relaxer use, frequency of use, age at first us, number of burns experienced during use, or type of relaxer used," Rosenberg noted.

"The findings provide empirical evidence that hair relaxers are not carcinogenic to the breast and do not contribute to the higher incidence of breast cancer in young African-American women than in young white women," she said.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about breast cancer risk.

SOURCE: Boston University, news release, May 17, 2007