Relaxers May Not Cause Fibroids But This Product Probably Does

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Fibroids And Black Women

Fibroids are a big problem in the black community. The black community has started to pay attention to the possibility that the products we love may also account for us having highest incidences of fibroids.

With the increased access to information, increasing health awareness and the rise of the natural hair community, the demonization of relaxers was inevitable.

The link between relaxers and fibroids has now become almost set in stone as the news of a single study spreads. The fact is that this particular study shows only a correlation between relaxer use and uterine fibroids and of course correlation is not causation.

Most of us will remember Chris Rock’s documentary on the damage relaxers cause. Yet even adjusting for the use of relaxers, the rate of fibroids among black women is still higher than other ethnic groups which leads to researchers to theorizing a genetic pre-disposition to black women getting the condition in the first place.

What’s This About Talcum Powder?

Growing up black there are certain products that would always be in the household. So much so that it has become a stereotypical representation of us; baby powder and relaxers come to mind.

Babies have been generously smeared in talcum powder for decades, women have been using it as part of their makeup routine and it has been a common practice for women to sprinkle their lady parts with it to limit sweat and odors. Recently I saw a video showing the combination of the two. Apparently, people have also been using talcum powder to help them avoid relaxer burns.

You may be surprised to learn that there are many more studies on talcum powder and their link to uterine fibroids and cancer which can also help to explain the higher incidence among black women. The question is, which has a greater likelihood of causing fibroids considering all the evidence we have; baby powder, or relaxers?


While there have been speculations on the possibility of both talc and relaxers having a correlation with health issues, there really is little or no authoritative study which conclusively speaks to this link. In fact the theory that relaxers might be linked to fibroids were popularized based on a story aired on a February 16, 2012 broadcast on local Fox News affiliate in Houston, Texas entitled “Hair Today, Tumors Tomorrow?”

The major black media picked it up and ran with it but in a Curly Nikki post, some of the points in the study done by Dr. Wise were clarified. Though there are reports that claim the theories about the link between cancers and relaxers are unfounded let’s consider what information we have about the two.

Zooming In On Talcum Powder And Relaxers

In a study done by Dr. Wise, it was noted that the phthalates in relaxers might seep into the scalp when relaxer burns occur and the more burns that occur the higher the likelihood of the development of fibroids; however, it cannot be proven that relaxers cause cancer. The manufacturers are not subject to regulation that would push for more stringent testing and rigorous monitoring.

Scientists will maintain that correlation does not automatically translate to causality since various factors are at work and each would need to be thoroughly researched to arrive at a conclusive report linking cancer to relaxers.

The Studies

The above video by Nutritionfacts.Org highlights several studies on the incidence of uterine leiomyoma, fibroids. In one study it was concluded that a majority of of women in the United States have fibroids before menopause with half of white women confirmed by age 40 and half of black women before their mid 30s.

As much as 80% of black women have fibroids. While the reason for such a vast difference in numbers in the ethnic difference is not known, it is speculated that the popular practice of sprinkling talcum powder on genitals increased risk of ovarian cancer. Still, no randomized controlled studies have been undertaken to prove this.

Why is there a recurrence of the “Big C” in this discussion? Cancers are basically abnormal cells that have a high rate of proliferation, in essence these cells multiply at a fast rate and undermine the immune system. Fibroids are abnormal cells which can become cancerous.

Final Considerations

The evidence shows a higher correlation between talcum powder and fibroids than it does for relaxers and fibroids. We have witnessed the ongoing public battle Johnson & Johnson has been fighting owing to their decision to ignore studies which proved talcum powder and other products they sell are linked to cancers.

Many of us in the black community are still stuck on the hypothesis that relaxers cause fibroids without considering other products in our environment that may actually be the real cause of our health issues. Remember that correlation does not prove causation so while we give relaxers a side eye, how many of us are ready to keep the same energy when it comes to our makeup that contains talcum powder?

Considering the number of studies done, we see a stronger correlation between the use of talc and fibroids than relaxers and fibroids. But of course the truth is never black or white, it always ends up being a lot more complicated and it could turn out to be a combination of factors including individual ingredients in our cosmetic products, environment, genetics and diet that come together and lead to the higher risk of uterine fibroids.

At the end of the day we have a responsibility to ourselves to do all we can to safeguard our health. That will sometimes call for more than a Google search, for that is the only way to minimize exposure to misinformation and disinformation from sources which might have an ulterior motive.

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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