Do Hair Relaxers Raise Black Women’s Risk Of Fibroids?

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perms and fibroid tumors

Dana Roxette, a salon owner in a suburb of Atlanta, Ga., has witnessed a so-called hair revolution over the last 10 years, she told Fox 5 Atlanta.

It used to be that 95 percent of the African-American female clients at her College Park salon had chemically relaxed hair. Now only about a quarter wear so-called “perms,” she tells the station because, like herself, most are going natural.

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“So, they can wear their hair curly like mine, wavy like mine,” Roxette told Fox 5, “and go to the gym. And on the weekend, if they want to go out, they can go out and press their hair like it’s relaxed.”

Stylist Maya Cooper, on the other hand, tells Fox 5 that she prefers perms, explaining that she sweats easily, and because her hair is longer, it requires much more maintenance if it were in its natural state. As a result, she’s been getting her hair chemically treated for 25 years.

But she was a little alarmed when she learned about a 2012 Boston University study that says Black women who use hair relaxers are at slightly higher risk of developing uterine fibroids, Fox 5 reports.

Fibroids are non-cancerous tumors that grow in the wall of the uterus, causing heavy bleeding and painful periods, and they are a leading cause of hysterectomies.

According to the National Women’s Health Information Center, African-American women are three times more likely to develop fibroids than other women.

Black women also get them younger.

“I’m definitely concerned, because I use a relaxer, so I would like to know if it’s something that’s going to affect my health,” Cooper told Fox 5.

But Carol Hogue, a professor of epidemiology at Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health, said that the link is tenuous at best. “There is an impact; it is very small,” Hogue says, according to Fox 5.

Hogue says the Boston University study was well-done and followed 23,000 women, but “when they examine the difference between women of African ancestry, and women of more European ancestry, the hair relaxer association practically disappears.”

For now, Hogue argues there’s no smoking gun linking chemically treated hair and fibroids, a big problem among African-American women. She says women should pay attention to Vitamin D deficiency, weight, and exercise.

Indeed, much more research needs to be done, but meanwhile, you can make this yet another reason to go natural in all of its glorious forms.

 SEE ALSO: Study: Smoking While Pregnant May Lead To Gay Babies

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