Provider Recommendations for Addressing Chemical Hair Straighteners and Uterine Cancer | Emese Zsiros, MD, PhD
Recent research has indicated the potential association of certain hair products, such as chemical hair straighteners and dyes, with an increased risk of various types of cancer, including breast, ovarian, and recently, uterine cancer, particularly in Black women.
Emese Zsiros, MD, PhD, of Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, recently discussed these studies with CancerTherapyAdvisor.com and provided further context into the design of these studies, the most pressing needs of this research, and how providers can address these studies with patients.
“It is important to note that despite the fact that some hair straighteners may contain potentially harmful chemicals, establishing a direct correlation between their use and the development of uterine cancer remains a complex task,” Dr. Zsiros explains. While recent studies may have indicated a potential link, it is important to note that the connection between the usage of hair straighteners and the development of uterine cancer could be influenced by other variables, such as genetic factors, lifestyle, and environmental exposures.
Dr. Zsiros outlines various ways providers can approach conversations with patients and provide well-informed advice regarding the use of chemical hair straighteners. Refer to the list below:
- Acknowledge gynecologic cancer patients’ anxiety and worries about the potential risk of using chemical hair straighteners and address their concerns with well-informed advice.
- Emphasize to patients that the present evidence isn’t definitive and does not support the recommendation to discontinue the use of such products; acknowledge that research is actively being performed to provide more clarity around the use of such products.
- If patients express worry about this research and wants to make changes, suggest reducing exposure to chemical hair straighteners and dyes as a preventive measure, particularly if they have a family history of cancer or are at an elevated risk due to genetic factors, lifestyle choices, and environmental influences.
- Recommend that patients consider other hair care alternatives, such as natural or organic products, and consistently follow safety instructions and guidelines provided by the product manufacturers.
- For younger patients, recommend using these products less frequently, as their prolonged use might accumulate risk over time.
- Recommend that patients maintain regular health check-ups and foster open communication with healthcare providers to monitor both general and gynecological health.