Hair products

Toxic chemicals in hair products for black women may be fueling the spread of cancer

  • Beauty products containing parabens may have a negative impact on cancer cells in black women, according to a new study.
  • Parabens are a group of chemicals that prevent mold and bacteria from growing in beauty products.
  • The study will be presented at the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting in Atlanta on Saturday.

Hair care and beauty products marketed to black women often contain a class of hormone-disrupting chemicals called parabens. According to a new study, these chemicals are not only linked to an increased risk of breast cancer, they may only be fueling the spread of cancer cells in black women compared to white women.

Parabens are a group of chemicals that prevent mold and bacteria from growing in beauty products to extend their shelf life. But in humans, parabens can mimic the hormone estrogen, possibly fueling dangerous cell growth, research suggests.

The study, which was conducted by City of Hope and will be presented today at the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting in Atlanta, analyzed the effect of parabens on breast cancer cells in black women and women white. The researchers found that parabens increased the growth of black breast cancer cell lines, but did not affect white breast cancer cell lines at the same dose.

Parabens also increased the expression of breast cancer-related genes in breast cancer cells of black and white women.

“Black women are more likely to buy and use hair products that contain these types of chemicals, but we don’t have a lot of data on how parabens may increase breast cancer risk in women. black,” said Lindsey S. Treviño, the study’s lead researcher. said in a statement. “This is because black women were not chosen to participate in most research studies on this link. Moreover, studies to test this link have only used breast cancer cell lines from white women.”

Increasingly, scientists are studying the cancer risk of black women’s beauty products

The study is part of a community-based research project called Bench to Community Initiative. The project brings together scientists, breast cancer survivors, hairstylists and community activists to study the link between harmful chemicals in black hair care products and breast cancer.

Black women are particularly affected by breast cancer. According to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, the population has a 41% higher breast cancer death rate, and black women under 50 have twice the breast cancer death rate than white women.

Observational studies have also investigated the link between hair care products marketed to black women and breast cancer. The Boston University Black Women’s Health Study, which follows 59,000 women enrolled in the study in 1995, found no link between moderate use of relaxers and higher cancer risk breast. BU researchers have found evidence that “heavy use of relaxers containing lye” may be associated with a more aggressive form of breast cancer.

“These results provide new data indicating that parabens also cause harmful effects on breast cancer cells in black women,” Treviño said in the release.

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