Reuters - Hair-straightening products contain potentially toxic mix

May 15, 2018

By: Ronnie Cohen

Excerpt: "Hair products used primarily by black women and children contain a host of hazardous chemicals, a new study shows.

The findings could explain at least in part why African-American women go through puberty earlier and suffer from higher rates of asthma and reproductive diseases than other groups.

“The truly scary thing about this is that women are being exposed to these chemicals weekly and sometimes even daily, without their knowledge, because they assume a product is safe simply because it is on the shelf,” epidemiologist Tamarra James-Todd said after reviewing the report in Environmental Research. James-Todd, a professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, supplied product information for the study but was not directly involved with the research.

Investigators tested 18 hair products - from hot-oil treatments to anti-frizz polishes, relaxers and conditioners - looking for the presence of chemicals called endocrine disrupters. These chemicals, which interfere with the way the body produces hormones, have been linked to reproductive disorders, birth defects, asthma and cancer.

Altogether, the researchers looked for 66 different endocrine disrupters. Each of the tested hair products contained at least four and as many as 30, said lead author Jessica Helm, a research fellow at the Silent Spring Institute in Newton, Massachusetts."