There is mounting evidence that beauty products used primarily in black communities contain toxic chemicals that have been linked to breast cancer and associated with earlier menarche in young African girls.
The study reviewed relaxer, perm, cream, root stimulator oil, lotion, and conditioner.
According to the Breast Cancer Foundation, when compared to any other group, women of colour have the highest breast cancer mortality rates.
This is because they are more likely than white women to be diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer.
The research further cements the importance of transparency regarding the ingredients used during the manufacturing process.
Although the research conducted shows most beauty products contain oestrogens or endocrine-disrupting chemicals, the link between their use and breast cancer risk has been unclear.
Research also confirms a link between hair relaxer use and risk of uterine leiomyomata (non-cancerous growths also known as fibroids in the uterus that can develop during a woman's childbearing years), an endocrine disorder.
The most common class of hormone-disrupting chemicals in beauty products are parabens, phthalates and oestrogen which are either used for extended shelf life, fragrances, or to promote hair growth.
They are said to interfere with the normal activity of the endocrine system, which is made up of many tissues and hormones in the body that are responsible for human growth, development, and reproduction.
The actions of oestrogen on the body may increase the risk of disease since hormone exposure from outside sources is linked to an increased lifetime risk of breast cancer in women, which rises with prolonged exposure to oestrogens, phthalates and parabens.
This is shockingly alarming, considering the fact that more than 94% of African American women surveyed under the age of 45 and above 89% have used these products.
A study of 300 women in New York found that, compared to other groups, African Americans were more likely to use hair products before the age of 13 and reached menarche earlier. EDCs are concerning because women who are younger at menarche are at increased risk of breast cancer.
Oestrogen in hair products encourages hair growth although epigenetic (behaviours and environment can cause changes that affect the way your genes work) makes the body susceptible to cell growth, abnormal mammary gland development that increases the risk of cancer.
Phthalates, which are used as a fragrant factor, alter mammary gland development through changes in epigenetics and promote cell growth, and enhance the ability of breast cancer cells to migrate and invade.
The study comes to the conclusion that African American girls’ and women’s use of these products is one reason why there is a higher rate of breast cancer among younger African Americans and that early and long-term lifetime exposure increases the risk of breast cancer death among African Americans.