Many of the hair relaxing and straightening products primarily used by black women and children contain hormone-disrupting chemicals associated with early puberty, preterm birth, and reproductive diseases, according to a recent study published in Environmental Research. Tamarra James-Todd, Mark and Catherine Winkler Assistant Professor of Environmental Reproductive and Perinatal Epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, who previously studied the potential health risks of chemicals in hair products, shared product information with the researchers.
Speaking about the new study on the June 8, 2018 broadcast of the public radio program Living on Earth, James-Todd noted that black women have the highest prevalence of diabetes in the U.S., are more likely than the general population to be overweight or obese, and suffer disproportionately from uterine fibroids and other health problems. It’s important to consider factors that may be influencing these disparities rather than assuming that they are the result of genetic differences, she said.
Read Living on Earth interview: Toxic Black Hair Products
Read Reuters coverage of the study: Hair-straightening products contain potentially toxic mix