CHICAGO (WGN) — A St. Louis woman filed a federal lawsuit in Chicago against five cosmetic manufacturers, including L’Oreal, on Monday alleging their hair straightening products can cause uterine cancer.
Jenny Mitchell filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court for Northern Illinois, saying she was exposed to phthalates- and endocrine-disrupting chemicals in hair care products directly and proximately leading to her uterine cancer diagnosis.
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The allegations in the lawsuit are against L’Oreal USA Inc. and L’Oreal USA Products Inc., Strength of Nature Global LLC, Soft Sheen Carson (W.I.) Inc., Dabur International Ltd. and Dabur USA Inc., and Namaste Laboratories.
Mitchell said she started using chemical hair straighteners when she was about 8 years old in the third grade.
“Society has made it a norm to look a certain way in order to feel a certain way,” said Mitchell.
Two decades later, at age 28, she went in for a fertility appointment and underwent a routine ultrasound. Three days later, she was told she had been diagnosed with uterine cancer. She subsequently had to get a hysterectomy.
The lawsuit states that endocrine-disrupting chemicals commonly found in hair straightening products can cause uterine cancer, specifically the highly toxic manufactured chemical known as DI-2-Ethylhexylphthalate, or DEHP.
“Millions of little girls have this put on their head at 7, 8, 9 years old, sometimes twice a month or every other month,” said attorney Diandra Debrosse Zimmerman.
Attorneys in the lawsuit point to a recent study released by the National Institute of Health that showed women who used chemical straighteners were at a higher risk of uterine cancer.
Of the 33,000-plus women who participated in the study over a decade, 378 of them developed uterine cancer, with those who reported using chemical hair relaxers being more than twice as likely to develop the disease as opposed to those who didn’t use them.
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WGN reached out to the companies named in the lawsuit but did not immediately receive a response.