FDA plans to ban some chemical hair-straightening products

Agency wants to prevent formaldehyde and chemicals that release it from being in products

Hair straightening chemicals linked to higher risk of uterine cancer.According to a study from the National Institutes of Health, women who used hair straightening products more than four times a year were more than twice as likely to develop uterine cancer.The NIH scientists analyzed data from 33,497 women ages 35-74. Researchers followed the women for nearly 11 years, during which time 378 participants were diagnosed with uterine cancer.Although the study found no correlation between increased risk and race, scientists said the dangers might be greater for Black women because they use the products more often.In December 2019, the scientists determined permanent hair dye and straighteners might increase the risk of breast and ovarian cancers

On Friday, the Food and Drug Administration announced its plan to ban chemical hair-straightening products that are linked to major health risks.

The plan will ban “formaldehyde (FA) and other FA-releasing chemicals (e.g., methylene glycol) as an ingredient in hair smoothing or hair straightening products marketed in the United States,” according to the Unified Agenda website. “These chemicals are used in certain cosmetic products that are applied to human hair as part of a combination of chemical and heating tool treatment intended to smooth or straighten the hair.”

If the plan moves forward, it will be up for discussion so the public can weigh in on the issue. Once the public has voiced their concerns of the proposed bill, the FDA will decide whether or not to move forward.

“Based on the comments, we might decide to end the rulemaking process, to issue a new proposed rule, or to issue a final rule. If we decide to issue a final rule, we publish the final rule in the Federal Register,” the FDA website states.

Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts calls the bill “a win for public health — especially the health of Black women who are disproportionately put at risk by these products as a result of systemic racism and anti-Black hair sentiment.”

A 2022 study by the National Institutes of Health linked the development of uterine cancer to chemicals found in hair straightening products. According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the study followed more than 30,000 women, ages 35-74, for 11 years, revealing 378 participants who used certain chemical products were diagnosed with uterine cancer.

Uterine cancer is the most common cancer of the female reproductive system and accounts for about 3% of all new cancer cases. There have been 65,950 estimated new cases this year” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported in 2022.