GREENSBORO, N.C. — Many people may not pay attention to what's on the back of the bottle when they use their hair products.
One study says some of the ingredients for black women could be harmful.
Are there chemicals in some Black hair products that lead to breast cancer?
- Dr.Judith Hopkins, Oncologist at Novant Health Cancer Institute
- Kimberly Bertrand, Associate Professor at Boston University
- Tonya Fairley, Founder of Stands Unlimited and Hairstylist
Dr. Hopkins says some hair products that Black women use to perm or relax their hair contain parabens, toxins she said can lead to cancer.
"So parabens are a chemical that could be volatile and it can be inhaled and like many products that are inhaled it can get into the bloodstream and be excreted through the bladder." Hopkins said.
Boston University conducted a study that followed 59,000 Black women from 1995. It's goal was to highlight health problems that directly affect that community.
"There's no research that specifically directs black women and what is particular to their experiences that may increase the risk of certain diseases and increase the burden of those diseases in this population," Bertrand said.
Bertrand says the study found that Black women who used lye-based relaxer products had a higher risk of breast cancer. She says lye is basically sodium hydroxide. The non-lye based products had no link to cancer.
"Sodium hydroxide can cause skin irritation and scalp burns of some kind," Bertrand said.
Black hairstylists are moving away from using products like these and switching to more natural ingredients.
"I try to teach my clients to look for things that are not harmful not to just your body but that's harmful to your hair so make sure that it's sulfate free because sulfates are detergents so detergents are harmful silicones, parabens, dilates, fragrances," Fairley said.
Fairley says she encourages her clients to look at the back of the bottle and educate themselves about the dangerous chemicals.
"Every time you use something that penetrates the follicles that gets into your bloodstream it's one step closer to you allowing something in your body that can be cancerous," Fairley said.
Yes, some chemicals used in hair products for Black women can lead to breast cancer.