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Hair Relaxers and Cancer

Products Liability: Hair Relaxers

Could You Join a Hair Relaxer Cancer Lawsuit?

Why Should You Choose Us?

Experienced Attorneys Ready to Take on Corporate Lawyers

You have many options to choose from for your legal representation, and you should consider them carefully. Our law firm is different than others because our attorneys have deep knowledge of the law, unique contributions to the legal profession, and we even helped shape laws seeking to protect consumers and medical patients. Our team is led by Attorney Cliff Rieders, who has assisted lawmakers with reviews, or drafting, of hundreds of pieces of legislation. Many of our attorneys have held leadership positions in legal organizations such as the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, formerly the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association. Mr. Rieders is a Board-Certified Trial Lawyer and a member of many courts, including the United States Supreme Court. Rieders has written some of the most important books that other lawyers utilize, and he teaches to members of the Bar. Significant victories have been achieved by the law firm.

Get the legal help you need right now. Call our attorneys today at (570) 323-8711 to discuss your case.

Major hair product companies have a lot of lawyers working together to defend them. That is why you need representation from someone who is unafraid to take them on. Rely on our highly experienced attorneys to handle your hair relaxers and cancer lawsuit. The Rieders Travis Dohrmann Mowrey Humphrey & Waters Law Firm has handled a number of significant products liability cases against major companies.

We believe that companies who harm consumers must be held accountable, and we will fight aggressively to obtain the full compensation you deserve.

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About Hair Relaxer Multidistrict Litigation

Legal Action on the Link Between Hair Relaxers and Cancer

Multidistrict litigation is where individual cases are filed, but they are handled together in one jurisdiction.  They may eventually be separated and sent back to the court where the plaintiff lives.  Like many product injury cases in the past, this case involving hair relaxers’ potentially causing cancer is poised to become an MDL.

The initial case was filed by Jenny Mitchell in Oct 20221, naming these entities as the defendants:

  • L’Oréal
  • Soft Sheen Carson
  • Dabur
  • Namaste Laboratories
  • Strength of Nature.

The companies’ product names include:

  • Dark & Lovely
  • Soft & Beautiful
  • Motions Salon Haircare
  • Optimum Salon Haircare
  • Just for Me (targeting Black girls)
  • Olive Oil Girls.

Ms. Mitchell was diagnosed with uterine cancer and had a hysterectomy as part of her treatment. She claimed that her life was forever changed by her cancer – and, likely, by her use of hair relaxers. The full court filing2 explains the way in which Black people’s hair is unique and how the history of hair straightening links back to slavery and the European standard of beauty for women’s hair. Companies that make hair relaxer products took advantage of this social standard and marketed it heavily.

Several other women who contracted cancer and regularly use hair relaxers also brought lawsuits soon after Ms. Mitchell. As the number of cases grew, the plaintiffs filed a motion3 with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) to centralize all of the cases being brought involving these products. If they are successful, the consolidated cases would be heard before the Northern District Court of Illinois.

What Our Attorneys Will Do for You

We expect that as more women learn of these lawsuits related to hair relaxers and cancer, they will join in. Our attorneys are looking into legal claims that allege that regular use of hair relaxers may have caused them to contract uterine cancer, breast cancer, uterine fibroids and other injuries. We will dedicate our resources to fully investigate these claims with various methods in which we may . . .

  • Research medical records
  • Gather information on your use of hair relaxer products
  • Find all relevant scientific research that links hair relaxers to cancer
  • Use expert witnesses
  • Conduct interviews.

Your lawyer will need strong experience in negotiations to obtain the full amount of compensation you deserve in a settlement. Having an attorney who is also a fierce and skilled litigator is important because your hair relaxer cancer case may end up in court.

If you have cancer and use hair relaxers, you may have a legal claim. Find out now. The sooner you act, the sooner you can seek compensation to pay for the damages you experienced.

Do You Have a Hair Relaxer and Cancer Lawsuit?

If some of the below-listed items apply to you, you may increase your chance of success if you bring a lawsuit related to hair relaxer use and uterine cancer. You do not need to fit all of these criteria, but there are minimum elements to a case that you should meet, i.e., you were diagnosed with uterine or breast cancer or related injuries and you used hair relaxers frequently. Below are details that may apply to you and may help your case:

  • You have been diagnosed with uterine cancer.
  • You have used hair relaxer at least four times a year for many years.
  • You have used hair relaxer during and since adolescence.
  • You applied the hair relaxer at home or had it applied in a salon.
  • You may have suffered scalp burns from use of the hair relaxer.
  • You do not have a family history of uterine cancer.

Call our team about your case today at (570) 323-8711. Get your free consultation by phone to learn how we can help you. We will help determine if your cancer was caused by your use of hair relaxers.

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Our Attorneys Have Experience Taking on Corporate Lawyers

You Should Have Our Attorneys by Your Side

If you are among the many women who use hair relaxers regularly and you have been diagnosed with cancer, you may have a lawsuit. The dangerous chemicals in these products may lead to several types of cancer, including breast, uterine and ovarian. Because your cancer may link to chemicals in hair relaxer products, it is important to work with attorneys who know how to prove product manufacturers were negligent. You also need attorneys who are prepared to take on corporate lawyers in negotiation or in court.

If you have been diagnosed with cancer and use hair relaxers, there may be a link between those products and your cancer. Call (570) 323-8711 and discuss your legal options with an attorney at Rieders Travis Dohrmann Mowrey Humphrey & Waters.

Proving Negligence Will Be Central to Your Hair Relaxer Cancer Lawsuit

For a hair relaxer cancer lawsuit to succeed, your attorney must prove that the manufacturer was negligent. There are basic elements to proving negligence in a product injury case:

  • Duty of Care – The defendant has a duty to consumers to notify them of risks involved with use of their product. In the case of hair relaxers, the manufacturers know they are dangerous and can cause injury, so they have a duty to provide this information to potential users of their products.
  • Breach of Duty of Care – Defendants that fail to warn consumers of risks have breached the duty of care owed to those consumers. Hair relaxer manufacturers breached their duty to women who buy their products when they did not include adequate warnings on their products. They should have let purchasers know that use of their hair relaxers substantially increases the risk of cancer.
  • Breach of Duty Caused Injury – The failure to warn consumers led to injury to those same consumers. When the companies that manufacture hair relaxers did not let consumers know about the dangers related to use of their products, they caused the consumers injury. In particular, the hair relaxer manufacturers’ failure to warn led to cancer.
  • Damages from Injury – “Damages” are the costs associated with an injury. When someone is injured by a harmful product, they need medical treatment and will soon have medical bills. They may suffer other financial losses, like lost income, and may experience pain and suffering.

Women who are diagnosed with cancer face significant medical costs and will be strongly affected by that treatment, whether it includes radiation, chemotherapy, or surgery. They may lose the ability to have children. They may experience ongoing pain and suffering or emotional distress. In the worst case, their cancer may lead to their death. When hair relaxer manufacturers are responsible for these harms, they should pay full compensation to victims.

Had the companies warned consumers that their hair relaxers could cause cancer, some would avoid using the products. Many women have suffered great harm from use of these products. Some have died far too young because they contracted cancer that may be related to their use of hair relaxers.

Challenges of a Product Liability Lawsuit

Hair Relaxer Cancer Lawsuits Require Experience and Skill

The laws surrounding cases related to product liability vary from state to state and are subject to change, over time, depending on court rulings. In an important case, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overruled a decision related to product liability from 1978. In Tincher v. Omega Flex, the Court held that a product must meet one of two criteria in order to be considered dangerously defective.

“The plaintiff may prove defective condition by showing either that (1) the danger is unknowable and unacceptable to the average or ordinary consumer, or that (2) a reasonable person would conclude that the probability and seriousness of harm caused by the product outweigh the burden or costs of taking precautions.” 4

In other words, the product must pose a danger beyond what a reasonable person would anticipate. Alternately, the risk associated with using a product must significantly outweigh the difficulty or expense involved in mitigating that risk.

Product liability lawsuits are often complex and often require taking on companies with deep pockets and a large contingent of lawyers. Many manufacturers of hair relaxers are very large corporations that will fight hard to avoid paying compensation for the harm their products caused. If you want to pursue a lawsuit, your first step should be to talk with one of our product liability lawyer at Rieders Travis Dohrmann Mowrey Humphrey & Waters. Our lawyers have extensive experience with personal injury cases and know the details in product liability laws.

A successful hair relaxer cancer lawsuit will require proving that the chemicals in the product led to your cancer. It also requires proving that the manufacturer should bear responsibility for the injuries you sustained.

If you use hair relaxers and have uterine cancer or breast cancer, you may be eligible to proceed with a lawsuit. However, proving that hair relaxer chemicals were the cause of your cancer will be a complicated task. It requires proving that negligent action (or inaction) on the part of the hair relaxer manufacturer led to your cancer diagnosis.

Can Hair Relaxers Cause Cancer?

Data From a Recent Study of Cancer and Hair Products Used by Women

If you wonder whether hair relaxers can cause cancer, answers are available with recent research. There may be a correlation between frequent use of hair relaxers and cancer. A study by scientists at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, called the Sister Study, collected data from 2005-2021. It tracked cancer risks for women whose sister had breast cancer 5 and included over 50,000 participants. Part of the information gathered relates to types of hair products the women used, including hair relaxers.

The wide range of participants in the study includes a racially diverse cohort, thus researchers gathered significant data on products used by women of color. Black women are the most frequent users of hair relaxer products, so the data collected by this study is extremely helpful to a hair relaxer and cancer lawsuit. In other research, scientists relied on the same data relating to a more focused group of women within the Sister Study. The goal was to examine incidences of uterine cancer. For 11 years, researchers tracked about 34,000 women between the ages of 35-74.

What Does the Hair Relaxer and Cancer Study Show?

Data Shows a Link Between Uterine Cancer and Hair Relaxers

The focused study of the approximately 34,000 women identified a correlation between women who frequently use hair relaxers and cancer 6. Researchers determined “frequent use” to be at least four times per year. Among the general population of women, 1.4% get uterine cancer, but among women who use hair relaxer products, that number is 4.3%. The researchers also examined the effects of other hair products for the women in the study. Data also shows a connection between use of hair dyes and breast and ovarian cancers. There are several chemicals in hair relaxers that are linked to cancer. When researchers looked at the tissue of women who had uterine cancer and used hair relaxers, they found several carcinogens.

Women who used hair relaxers merely four times per year had close to 3 times the likelihood of developing uterine cancer than those women who did not use these products.

Exposure to the carcinogenic chemicals in hair relaxers creates an increased risk to women because they are used on the scalp. There is more absorption of chemicals through the skin of the scalp than skin on the face, arms, or elsewhere on the body. Hair relaxers present an additional threat because they can burn the scalp or cause other injuries. That injured tissue may mean dangerous chemicals absorb into the body more quickly through the injured scalp tissue.

Hair Straightening Chemicals Linked to Cancer

Endocrine Disrupters in Hair Relaxers May Be the Cause

Many chemicals found in hair straightening products are considered carcinogenic. Unfortunately, this means several chemicals may cause cancer for those who use them. Hair relaxers may contain formaldehyde or chemicals that produce formaldehyde. They may also contain parabens and phthalates. These chemicals are considered endocrine disrupters because they interfere with the endocrine system. This disruption means the chemicals in hair relaxers can affect production and delivery of hormones throughout the body. Those hormones may then lead to cancer growth in a woman’s uterine system or breasts.

The earlier in life a Black woman begins to use hair relaxer, the more exposure she has to endocrine disruptors, which may increase the cancer risk she faces.

Uterine Cancer Risk is Higher Among Black Women Who Use Hair Relaxers

Unfortunately, there has been a substantial increase in uterine cancer in the last few decades. The National Cancer Institute collected data showing this increase between 2000-2015.7 When it comes to cancer that may have been caused by hair relaxers, the primary victims are Black women, because they are the group who uses them most commonly. The study shows that Black women have a higher rate of uterine cancer than other groups.

Uterine cancer rates per 100,000 by race, 2000-2015:

  • Black women – 25.9
  • White women – 11.4
  • Hispanic women – 10.1
  • Asian/ Pacific Islander women – 7.5.

Overall, Black women tend to have lower quality healthcare for various reasons. So, the outcome of contracting uterine cancer is bleak for this group. Not only are Black women more likely to get this cancer, they are also more likely to die from it. A study regarding breast cancer in Black women shows this trend. Black women die at a rate of 40% more than non-Hispanic White women, despite a slightly lower incidence of the disease.8

Black women who use hair relaxers and get uterine cancer are likely to suffer from more severe cancer or death. Also, they are twice as likely to die of uterine cancer than women of other races.9

What Compensation is Available in a Hair Relaxer Cancer Lawsuit?

If you have used hair relaxers at least four times a year and have fallen victim to uterine or breast cancer or other medical issues related to endocrine disruptors, you should talk to our attorneys. You may be able to pursue a lawsuit related to your use of hair relaxers and the cancer you have. In a lawsuit, our attorneys will fight for you to receive maximum compensation. You can pursue several types of “damages,” which are costs or losses associated with your case. Additionally, if a close relative you love died from cancer and used hair relaxers, as a Pennsylvania wrongful death lawyer could explain, you can pursue compensation for damages through a wrongful death claim. Manufacturers of these products should be held responsible.

Don’t hesitate to seek legal representation now in your hair relaxer cancer case. You must start your legal action quickly. Pennsylvania law establishes a two-year time limit in which a case can be filed (42 Pa. C.S. 5524)10. As soon as our attorneys determine you have a legal claim, we will begin working on your case immediately.

There are several costs and losses you may have suffered related to your cancer. Some costs will be ongoing since treatment for cancer may be necessary over many years. These “damages” can be costs that are easy to calculate, which are “economic damages.” Others will take experienced legal analysis to determine their amounts. These are “non-economic damages.”

Economic Damages in a Hair Relaxer Lawsuit

These costs are ones you can easily calculate. They include:

  • Costs for hospitalization
  • Surgical costs
  • Costs for in-home care
  • Transportation costs associated with treatment
  • Costs of medication or durable medical equipment
  • Lost income from when your cancer prevented you from working
  • Future medical costs
  • Future lost income.

Non-economic Damages

Non-economic damages in your hair relaxer lawsuit may include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Diminished quality of life

Punitive Damages in Hair Relaxers and Cancer Lawsuits

Punitive damages may also be available in a legal claim that a hair relaxer product caused your cancer. These types of damages are rare and are used only when a manufacturer shows deliberate disregard because they knew the product was dangerous but sold it anyway, or did not recall it.  They may also have shown deliberate indifference by not issuing adequate warnings. There are several reasons why a court may award punitive damages in a legal case that shows the hair relaxer used caused a victim’s cancer. They may be used to…

  • Punish the defendant
  • Send a message to other manufacturers of dangerous hair relaxer products
  • Make the amount of the award significant enough to prevent others from causing similar harm.

The courts take product injury cases seriously and may decide it is necessary to send a message to manufacturers of hair relaxers so they stop bringing dangerous products to the market.

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Wrongful Death Claims

Sometimes Cancer Caused by Hair Relaxers Leads to Death

Tragically, some who used hair relaxers on a frequent basis will contract cancer that is fatal. It is horrible to lose your loved one because a manufacturer failed to warn consumers of the danger of their product. If your loved one died from cancer caused by hair relaxers, you have legal options.

In Pennsylvania, if you are a family member of the deceased, you can bring a lawsuit to obtain compensation for damages. These costs would be associated with a personal injury claim related to damages from when your loved one was still alive, like medical bills. You can also pursue lost income that your loved one would have provided to her family. The harm of losing a loved one runs much deeper than financial losses. You also lose your enjoyment of their companionship, and our attorneys can pursue non-economic damages related to that loss of companionship.

When you work with our team, we will identify how much all the damages are worth in your hair relaxer wrongful death lawsuit. We will fight aggressively to obtain full compensation for those damages.

Manufacturers must be held responsible when they fail to warn consumers that their hair relaxer products may lead to cancer.

If you and your loved one paid the ultimate price for their wrongdoing, the companies should pay full damages for all the harm they caused. Talk to our attorneys today to learn how we can help you and to understand what types of damages you can obtain. Call us for your free telephone consultation at (570) 323-8711.

Turn to Our Attorneys for Your Hair Relaxer Cancer Case

We Leverage Resources to Fight for You

When there is so much at stake for you and your loved ones, it is important to choose your legal representation carefully. That’s why you should rely upon the highly experienced and knowledgeable attorneys at Rieders Travis Dohrmann Mowrey Humphrey & Waters, who have successfully handled large, complex cases.

If you believe you may have a legal case, call our team to discuss your use of hair relaxers and your cancer diagnosis. If your loved one died from cancer and you believe it was caused by hair relaxer chemicals, you should contact us. You may be able to pursue a wrongful death claim.

We know that fighting a serious illness like cancer takes all the energy you and your loved ones have. It can be devastating to have such a horrible disease when it could have been prevented if the manufacturers had provided sufficient warning to consumers. We will hold these companies responsible for their negligence. Our attorneys will aggressively pursue all the compensation you deserve for your suffering, your medical expenses, and your financial losses.

Talk to our attorneys about your case. We will put major resources into seeking justice for you in a hair relaxer cancer lawsuit. Get a free phone consultation now. Call (570) 323-8711.


Mitchell v. L’Oreal USA, Inc. et al. Docket Report.

Jenny Mitchell v. L’Oreal USA, Inc., L’Oréal USA Products, Inc., Strength of Nature Global, LLC, Soft Sheen/Carson Inc., Soft Sheen Carson (W.I.), Inc., Dabur International Ltd., Dabur USA Inc., and Namaste Laboratories, LLC. Case: 1:22-cv-05815. U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

3  IN RE: Hair Relaxer Products Liability Litigation. Docket Report.

4  Terrence D. Tincher and Judith R. Tincher v. Omega Flex, Inc. J-80-2013. Supreme Court of Pennsylvania Middle District.

5  National Institutes of Health. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Sister Study.

6  Che-Jung Chang, Katie O’Brien, Alexander P. Keil, et al. Use of Straighteners and Other Hair Products and Incident Uterine Cancer. Journal of the National Cancer Institute. October 17, 2022.

National Institutes of Health. Study Shows Incidence Rates of Aggressive Subtypes of Uterine Cancer Rising. May 22, 2019.

8 Ismail Jatoi, Hyuna Sung, Ahmedin Jamal. The Emergence of Racial Disparity in U.S. Breast-Cancer Mortality.  New England Journal of Medicine.

Attorney Cliff Rieders

Attorney Cliff RiedersCliff Rieders is a Nationally Board Certified Trial Lawyer practicing personal injury law. A large part of his practice involves multi-district litigation, including cases related to pharmaceuticals, vitamin supplements and medical devices. He is admitted in several state and federal courts, as well as the Supreme Court of the United States. Rieders is the past regional president of the Federal Bar Association and is a life member of the distinguished American Law Institute, which promulgates proposed rules adopted by many state courts. He is a past president of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, formerly Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association. As a founder of the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority, he served on the Board for 15 years.

Not only has Rieders held many highly esteemed, leadership positions, he authored legislation related to the Patient Safety Authority and the Mcare Act, which governs medical and hospital liability actions in Pennsylvania. He authored texts upon which both practitioners and judges rely, including Pennsylvania Malpractice Laws and Forms, and Financial Responsibility Law Issues in Pennsylvania, the latter governing auto and truck collisions in Pennsylvania. In addition, he wrote several books on the practice of law in Pennsylvania regarding wrongful death and survivor actions, insurance bad faith, legal malpractice claims and worker rights, among others. Rieders also serves as a resource to practitioners as a regular speaker for Celesq, an arm of the world’s largest legal publisher, Thomson Reuters West Publishing.

As recognition of his wide range of contribution to his profession and of his dedication to protecting the rights of his clients, he received numerous awards, among them the George F. Douglas Amicus Curiae Award, the Milton D. Rosenberg Award, the B’nai B’rith Justice Award, and awards of recognition from the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers. [ Attorney Bio ]