Hair Relaxers Linked To High Uterine Fibroid Risks Among Black Women? Unlikely


No doubt some of you have experienced a love-hate relationship with relaxers. They have been demonized but perhaps nothing has been more scathing than the Boston University study back in 2012 that linked hair relaxers to high uterine fibroid risk among black women.

Over the years the relaxer has become quite a mainstay in the black community as it presents styling options that could not be achieved if the hair is in its natural state. We’ve mastered the art so much so that many of us no longer feel it necessary to entrust the process to a professional cosmetologist, especially with all the DIY kits on the market.

We are not trying to condone or even encourage the use of relaxers. In the wrong hands they have led to severe hair loss and even chemical burns. In the study mentioned it’s the chemical burns which result from over processing that are cause for concern as it relates to fibroids.

But it is important that we, the black community, base our hair care practices on real facts and not conjecture and poor science. That being said, we will have to mobilize and get the studies done that will once and for all dispel the myths and innuendos we’ve been fed about our hair.

Which brings me back to perhaps one of the most critical studies that need to be done for us, by us: can it be conclusively proven that hair relaxers are linked to high uterine fibroid risks among black women?

We get a little skeptical about studies regarding the black community because more often than not, the people behind the studies have a certain hidden agenda. (You might want to check out the members of Boston University’s Institutional Review Board just for good measure; after all, they approved the study).

I am more inclined to believe the Chris Rock documentary, “Good Hair,” some random study. There’s just something unnerving about seeing a soda can melt down to nothing in the tub of relaxer but that’s a whole other pot of tea (and I digress).

What’s evident is that one commonality between the media and people in general is the “run with it” syndrome; the media is apt to report anything sensational enough to push ratings up in a given day and the general public will often take it as gospel. The thing is that much of it is often done at the expense of accuracy of that information. We think that is exactly what happened with this study so we have decided to go in and try to dissect it to see what the report really revealed and how it matches up to what one other expert says.

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About Marsha Buchanan

As a Jamaican girl raised in a devout church family headed by my mother, I have always had my natural hair, no chemical processing. After years of mistreating it , often ignorant of that fact, I began my healthy hair journey in January 2013 in fact, I have seen to it that my entire household falls in line where this is concerned. When I am not poring over some hair blog or forum I spend my time teaching English to rowdy high school students (ok maybe I have some little sweethearts in the mix), mothering the most adorable two year old on this globe, or rushing to meet the deadline for a writing project on Elance. In my spare time I enjoy a stroll along the beach with my doting husband.

About Marsha Buchanan

As a Jamaican girl raised in a devout church family headed by my mother, I have always had my natural hair, no chemical processing. After years of mistreating it , often ignorant of that fact, I began my healthy hair journey in January 2013 in fact, I have seen to it that my entire household falls in line where this is concerned. When I am not poring over some hair blog or forum I spend my time teaching English to rowdy high school students (ok maybe I have some little sweethearts in the mix), mothering the most adorable two year old on this globe, or rushing to meet the deadline for a writing project on Elance. In my spare time I enjoy a stroll along the beach with my doting husband.


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  1. Shaketta Shannel Singleton

    African american women are genetically predisposed to Uterine fibroids are over 75% more than ANY other race.
    relaxers are not only used on black women but women of all races depending upon the hair texture yet we still have the most cases of uterine fibroids.
    It’s more about genetics than anything environmental.
    I know women who are natural and always have been yet they struggle with this issue.

  2. Jamila Kelly

    this is like saying African Americans have a greater risk of heart disease because they blow dry their hair =_=
    girl bye.

  3. Shana Smith

    The unhealthy food that I eat will kill me WAY before my freakin relaxer will. Yes it is very unlikely that hair relaxers are linked to high uterine fibroid risk so why even entertain this crap by posting it? Bad enough some people REALLY believe this crap. 10 years ago mostly every woman that I knew had a relaxer and was as healthy as can be now every since the natural hair revolution began the relaxer is all of a sudden the devil. I LOVE natural hair , I LOVE relaxed hair. I LOVE any and all hair that is healthy.


      I think that it’s the reason that so many people still believe this that we felt the need to post this by really looking at the original study that made the claim. I think that a major downside to the entire thing is that their study group was way to small to make any meaningful conclusions and there was even the suggestion that it was perhaps genetics that caused the higher incidence of the fibroids among black women. Bottom line, like the title said, the relaxer connection is unlikely.

    2. Alisson Hislop

      I agree with u shana i been relaxing my hair from i was a youth im in my 40’s now an still looking good an healthy if i say so myself i dont fall for none of this crap yes it is very unlikely

    3. Charles Zeno

      Lol so a study tells u that its bad for your over all health and dumb ass defends it. this is why they dont do or revel real studies on blk ppl we are hard headed stubborn and uneducated this is true and ps no matter what u believe A RELAXER IS NEVER TO TOUCH YOUR SCALP PERIOD ITS ALWAYS BEEN ON THE WARNING. PS Your HAIR IS NOT HEALTHY WITH RELAXER, it is A Molecular chemical change do some real homework you might learn something it’s poison fools

    4. Michelle Williams

      Study tells us many things that’s not accurate Charles Zeno.Don’t believe everything please.Many things leads to fibroids.Abortion,unhealthy eating habits.Even the water we drink.The chemicals and pollution in the air.ETC..I can go on and on.Relaxers are the bottom of the iceberg.

    5. Ashley Ruiz

      You put poison on your body every day. Please look at the ingredients in your deodorant and lotions and toothpaste and household cleaning items and let me know how many poisons you are using on your body and inhaling daily. Charles Zeno

    6. Shana Smith

      Ashley he isn’t intelligent enough to realize that or care because as he said black people are hard headed stubborn and uneducated, toothpaste alone can take us out of here before a relaxer will.

    7. Kamela M Oxner

      By the way, I was Sallys the other day. I took look at few natural hair products;& guess what I saw one of the bottles? Freaking curl activator. Lol

    8. Tina Waters

      Charles Zeno not every so called “study” is accurate. Studies aren’t done on black people because there are fewer black people and they’d rather do studies on white males as they are more important to those doing the studies.
      Some studies suggest black people are less intelligent than other races and we are predisposed to violence. Should we believe that also. There are a lot of chemicals that goes into everyone’s body our food is full of them. Not to mention the lotions, fragrances, deodorants, soaps.
      So instead of name calling why don’t you do a little research. Black women have a higher rate of fibroids but there are fewer of us in the population. Also it’s simply genetics.
      Whether or not chemically treated hair is healthy you aren’t qualified to determine that.

    9. Tina Waters

      Michelle Williams abortion does not lead to fibroids. However the hormonal changes during pregnancy can accelerate their growth. Neither does unhealthy eating habits. Genetically black women have increased risks of uterine fibroids.

  4. Tsebo Kobbina

    Be warned the chemicals company are laughing all the way to the bank at the expense of your health. This warning should not be taken for granted

    1. Jenny JackJack

      Then you need to stop wearing deodorant, lotion, perfumes, hair dyes… Stop eating fast food and pop. Don’t breathe polluted air !!!! Don’t pump gas …. Need I go on?

    2. Sharon Jones

      That still doesn’t negate the fact that anything you put on your body is absorbed in your skin. To each his/her own.

    3. Ashley Ruiz

      Thank you, Jenny!! I hate when people cut out ONE chemical and use 100 more that are causing even more damage. Bandwagonners…

    4. Acinomel McLeod

      @ Sharon Jones warnings are given but not many take heed……. until after the fact. Doesn’t take much to research what you typed and its validity.

    5. Sharon Jones

      I’m a breast cancer survivor and I made the decision FOR MYSELF to never get a relaxer again, do I know that’s the reason I got it? No, but something inside me make that decision, again to each his/her own.

    6. Maude Norwood Whitener

      Jenny JackJack and Ashley Ruiz, Sharon Jones was simply stating a fact. There’s no proof that she is a “bandwagonner.” In addition to giving up relaxers, I took a serious look at what else I was putting on my skin and found alternative products that did not contain toxic chemicals and when I can’t find a suitable alternatives, I make my own products. The true “bandwagonners” are those who don’t take the time to learn about what they are putting on and in their bodies because the just go along for the ride with the food, pharmaceutical, and cosmetic companies assuming all their products are safe.

  5. Jenny JackJack

    Honestly, most woman need to worry about problems such as obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, etc. Let me guess, relaxers caused those ailments too! Also many naturals suffer from fibroids. If you want to be natural then that’s fine, but don’t use scare tactics to convince everybody. We all do not want to be natural. I love my healthy, relaxed hair!

  6. Stacie Flin

    It’s a corrosive chemical. Stop using that bs. Use a blow dryer and flat iron. Check out Chris Rocks documentary they was done in 2010 about the harmful chemicals in relaxers.

    1. Lisa

      I workout everyday, I wash my hair 3 times per week, more if it’s hot or depending on my workout routine. I dislike the smell of sweat and I like wearing my hair straight. Your advice would be very impractical for someone with my lifestyle. To each his/her own. Peace.

  7. Tammie Faulkner Taylor

    We preach about the dangers of relaxers while being obese, claiming “thick”.
    Diabetes and heart disease done sent more women to their graves than Dark and Lovely EVER has.
    Anytime an overweight natural starts spouting the health risks of relaxers, I just sit there and chuckle.
    Girl bye…

    1. Shāy Ponts

      Lol I can’t help but laugh, but you’re right! To top that off, the unrelaxed women who dye their hair often also tickle me because dye is also a chemical, but apparently the relaxer is just the devil

    2. Tina Waters

      What if she’s a thin natural woman, do you laugh then also?
      It’s doubtful any woman with natural hair will tell you color is not a chemical. It does sit on the hair and does not change its structure. Relaxers aren’t the devils but you do whatever you want to YOUR hair there’s no need to bash others who make a different choice.

    3. Cleopatra Haynes

      Tina Waters I think the point is that if health is Really the goal why not lead an overall healthy lifestyle. It’s hypocritical and I often make the point.

  8. Licia Ballen Buchanan-Allen

    Some comments seem to indicate that a response was formed to the title and not the contents of the article. The thing about that is misinterpretation is highly likely if you don’t read the article; however, in this case the title does hint which stance the article takes with the operative word being “Unlikely.”

  9. Valerie Johnson

    I didn’t realize hormones and antibiotics were in relaxers…you learn something new every day…personally I think it’s estrogen mimicking chemicals in our food and environment and black women are simply more sensitive to it…have your babies before 30 or you may not have any…it seems no one is rushing to find out the cause so we have to be proactive.

    1. Tina Waters

      Because someone says it doesn’t make it accurate. Genetically black women have a greater occurrence of uterine fibroids no matter what we eat or put on our hair.

  10. Blair Cadet

    This is not the only study done on chemical hair relaxers, many in the academic world have done research on this topic, people just don’t know… also the chemicals are toxic, why do you think a doctor recommends Black women to not hair relaxers when they are pregnant? The risks of using chemical relaxers are not only possibly linked to fibroids but other health issues. For example, the Environmental Working Group website states: the dangers of Dark N Lovely no-lye chemical relaxers: “Endocrine disruption, Multiple, additive exposure sources, Contamination concerns, Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Miscellaneous, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Occupational hazards, Persistence and bioaccumulation; Other MODERATE concerns: Biochemical or cellular level changes; Other LOW concerns: Enhanced skin absorption, Cancer, Data gaps, Ecotoxicology” Research and papers on the study of the dangers of chemical relaxers Papers: “Impact of hair relaxers in women in Nakuru, Kenya” by Dr. Beatrice Amunga Etemesi, MD:, and the Environmental Working Group, a great website to rate the dangers of all food, and cosmetic products: There is plenty of research, studies, papers, and proof that chemicals relaxers are dangerous, but its up to people to educate themselves, the information (credible) out there. hope these links help.

    1. Ashley Ruiz

      Can you also post articles that link other store bought beauty items to health issues. I’d love to see how many products people use that are also affecting their health but arent getting talked about bc they are just targeting relaxers. (Note my sarcasm)

    2. Tina Waters

      Maude Norwood Whitener I don’t see how what you’re saying is any different than what Ashley Ruiz is saying.
      There are many chemicals in anything we use or eat everyday. To target relaxers is ridiculous.
      To say they’re linked to uterine fibroids is especially troubling since there are so many other chemicals we use daily.

    3. Blair Cadet

      The Environmental Working Group website is the best to look for informatiom regarding not only cosmetic products but food, cleaning products, and more 🙂

    4. Maude Norwood Whitener

      Tina Waters, Ashley Ruiz and I just may be saying the same thing but the sarcastic manner in which she “asked” for information prompted my response. I don’t understand why the users of the “creamy crack” get so upset if someone talks about the dangers of it. Anyway, the article was in fact debunking one of the alleged dangers of it so they should be relieved. This is is it not?

  11. Charlene Cha LaBranche

    Relaxers is a powerful chemical though if it can burn the skin off your body says a lot but relaxers ain’t the only thing that’s harmful

  12. Hindala Jones

    If it’s not one thing it’s another. if this is the case why does the food and drug let them put it out for people to use. more than likely it’s the pills they want you to buy

  13. Tina Waters

    Relaxers are not linked to fibroids in black women. They just occur more often in black women. Always have. Just like we usually get a different breast cancer than other races of women so we die more often from breast cancer. That’s not linked to relaxers either!

  14. Tina Waters

    So the study concludes for certain that the more European the black woman is the less likely she is to use relaxer than the more African black woman.
    Well we already knew that.

  15. Nokuthula Danisa Sikwila

    While there might be risks in chemicals, fibroids are very common in Dark skinned women , in rural Africa where women have never seen an empty box of relaxer ! We are just susceptible

  16. Kerry- Ann Cato

    Active lifestyle i use relaxer of and on sometimes braids and I never knew I had a fibroids until last year November the size of a grapefruit. I wanted to get an operation and my doctor said don’t it will grow right back. Healthy lifestyle and there are herbs to help shrink it but there is no proof its caused by relaxer but our lives have changed over the years even the healthy foods we eat have a lot of chemicals..

  17. Kerry- Ann Cato

    black women are at risk for so much more and it attacks us aggressively from cancer to fibroid we need to take care of our selves and each other. What happen to us. What happen to our togetherness….

  18. Judy Patterson

    I heard this on the doctor,s show cream hair relaxer causes fibrous tumour tissues , my mom died from this too many Jerri curl,s did it the chemical burn,s your brain and leaks into your skin cell,s no more cute perm,s for me .

  19. Amanda Bradley

    You can’t tell me that after so many years of getting multiple relaxers a year like most black women do myself included don’t have health complications from it…most black women start young with them…you’d have to be a complete naive jackass to believe that there’s no health risk…yea and white women don’t get cancer from tanning smfh

  20. Asha Jamia

    They don’t care, when ever people tell them that they get all offended and defensive, which is OK. I don’t care what they put in their heads, mouths, other areas… You can lead a horse to water but….

    1. Lisa

      I assume you eat 100% organic and use only organic products etc. It’s not just about women not wanting to listen, for some it’s about separating sensationalism from facts. All chemicals can affect different people in different ways. I’ve known 7 women with fibroids, 4 were natural all their lives, 1 was relaxed for less than 2 years before discovering the fibroids, the other 2 started relaxing as teens. All black. 4 have since died from diabetes related complications. Blacks have a habit of majoring in the minor while ignoring the true issues we face.

  21. Jacquelyn Coleman

    Fibroids ran in my family all of the girls had then icluding some of the grandaughters , but my mother never had them, but I think she took the D E S drug to start having children.

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