Three American women are suing L’Oreal and other beauty brands after they were diagnosed with womb and breast tumors as a result of using the products for decades.
The case has been filed by Rhonda Terrell, 55, Bernadette Gordon, 49, and Rugieyatu Bhonopha, 39.
It follows a similar case of 28-year-old woman from Missouri who sued L’Oréal and several other beauty product companies in October, alleging that their hair-straightening products had caused her uterine cancer.
The lawsuits come after the release of a study by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) last month that women who reported frequent use of hair straightening products are more than twice as likely to develop uterine cancer as compared to those who do not use such products.
According to the study, the use of certain hair products, such as hair straighteners and dyes, is associated with hormone-sensitive cancers, including breast and ovarian cancers. This is the first study to examine how the products could affect uterine cancer risk.
The researchers did not collect information on the brands or ingredients of the hair products the women use but several chemicals that have been found in straighteners (such as parabens, bisphenol A, metals, and formaldehyde) may be contributing to the increased uterine cancer risk observed.
All of the women said that they were unaware that the use of chemical hair straighteners had put them at an increased risk of cancer until the release of the findings of the study.
Rhonda Terrell said, “If I had known all those years ago if they had a warning on the box to say this could cause cancer, I wouldn’t have used it. And I want to hold them accountable because I have granddaughters”.
Alexandra White, who is the head of the environment and cancer epidemiology group of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the lead author of the study, cautioned that the study did not prove that hair straightening products caused uterine cancer.
She stated, “This study is the first to show a possible link between frequent use of hair straightening products and uterine cancer”.
However, the women in question and their lawyers believe otherwise.
After several complaints, L’Oréal issued a statement and said that it is
confident in the safety of our products and believe the recent lawsuits filed against us have no legal merit.
It continued, “L’Oréal upholds the highest standards of safety for all its products,” and added, “Our products are subject to a rigorous scientific evaluation of their safety by experts who also ensure that we follow strictly all regulations in every market in which we operate”.
The other companies named in the lawsuits did not return requests for comments.
Meanwhile, the petitioners are seeking compensatory damages as payment for their medical bills, attorney’s fees, and other expenses.