|Posted by The Reunion Black Family on March 30, 2014 at 5:05 AM|
The dependency of African Women on Hair relaxers is truly worrisome especially as most women are not well informed about the chemicals present in these relaxers. Women relax their hair at least once every month and this ritual continues mostly for the rest of their lives. Being exposed to potentially harmful chemicals in small doses for a long period of time is whats absolutely scary. Hair companies do not print all the chemicals present in black hair products, if they did they’d probably go out of business.
I realize there isn’t a lot of advocacy on this issue which is also interesting as i would assume people would want to know more about what they put in their hair, and once they know its harmful, would want to spread the message across to others. I always hypothesized that the use of relaxers, in the long run would cause some sort of ailment. But like all scientific hypothesis, it has to be tested. Seeing I’m just a young Scientist with no fancy lab or high tech equipment to call my own, i decided to do what scientists do best which is to find some sort of evidence..but this time using good old Google. I’m happy to say i found a recent study on this.
A new study in the American Journal of Epidemiology has linked hair relaxers to uterine fibroids, as well as early puberty in young girls.
Scientists followed more than 23,000 pre-menopausal Black American women from 1997 to 2009 and found that the two- to three-times higher rate of fibroids among black women may be linked to chemical exposure through scalp lesions and burns resulting from relaxers.
Women who got their first menstrual period before the age of 10 were also more likely to have uterine fibroids, and early menstruation may result from hair products black girls are using, according to a separate study published in the Annals of Epidemiology last summer.
Three hundred African American, African Caribbean, Hispanic, and White women in New York City were studied. The women’s first menstrual period varied anywhere from age 8 to age 19, but African Americans, who were more likely to use straightening and relaxers hair oils, also reached menarche earlier than other racial/ethnic groups.
While so far, there is only an association rather than a cause and effect relationship between relaxers, fibroid tumors, and puberty, many experts have been quick to point out that the hair care industry isn’t regulated by the FDA, meaning that there’s no definite way to fully know just how harmful standard Black hair care products really are.
Fibroids are tumors that grow in the uterus. They are benign, which means they are not cancerous, and are made up of muscle fibers. Fibroids can be as small as a pea and can grow as large as a melon. It is estimated that 20-50% of women have, or will have, fibroids at some time in their lives.
From lessons in Epidemiology, i learnt that A might be associated with B but not the cause of B. In this case the study found that there is only an association rather than a cause and effect relationship between relaxers and fibroid tumors. In lay terms this means relaxers are associated with fibroid tumours but relaxers are not the reason why people get fibroid according to this study
Escape to Belgium : Up Close with Isabella Broekhuizen
I really love to see my Beautiful Black sistas throwing down science and being empowering. I like to see that they understand some to many of the aspects of what we are facing as a whole as Black people. But I would like to ask you sista, When are you going to take off that wig, weave, and relaxer out your head to get a higher sense of clarity that only can happen when you love and accept yourself for who you TRULY are, A Black woman.
INDIE NIK : AN AFRIKAN VOICE SOMEWHERE IN AMERICA
P. S : As soon as they stop thinking that European women are prettier with that straight hair...
JASON : AN AFRIKAN VOICE SOMEWHERE IN AMERICA;
Escape to Belgium : Up Close with Isabella Broekhuizen
Scalp damage from chemical hair straightener burns (Image from African Health Magazine)
Results of the pioneer study which was published through the Oxford University Press and made available in the American Journal of Epidemiology (Januar
y 2012) involved the following of over 23,000 premenopausal women for incidents of uterine leiomyomata.
Amongst other criteria participants reported on was their age when first using hair straighteners, the type of formula applied and the frequency of burns they received. It is widely accepted that millions of African women who expose themselves to chemical straighteners may be absorbing potentially harmful chemicals like parabens and phthalates into their blood stream through scalp lesions and burns.
The study which proves correlation and asserts causality has faced strong opposition from those determined to continue the ‘relaxing’ process despite the negative effects of these chemicals which can also be absorbed through the skin.
This resistance which is believed to be symptomatic of sufferers of body dysmorphic syndromes is similar to the manner in which some users seek to normalise the practice of using carcinogenic skin whitening (bleaching) products to achieve an imagined but unsustainable cosmetic goal.
Tragically many younger women are initially opposed to using chemical hair products but often adjust this view after being introduced or culturally indoctrinated into the ‘relaxing’ process by their mothers and an older generation seeking to conform to a beauty aesthetic unnatural to themselves.
Child Abuse: Good Hair?
Toxic industrial compounds
Controversial ‘beauty’ aids designed to alter the natural features of their users often contain potentially harmful active ingredients like parabens and in particular phthalates, a toxic industrial compound widely used to soften and increase the flexibility of plastic and vinyl.
Yet whilst these chemicals can be absorbed into the skin, more damage is done with the use of chemicals hair straighteners due to the way they burn the scalp, exposing the body to their negative health effects.
Analysis of the data collected revealed that whilst the risk of fibroids was unrelated to the age at first use or the type of formula used, the systematic exposure to phthalates through scalp lesions significantly increased their risk of developing uterine leiomyomata. It also showed that those women who used the chemicals more than seven times during a year developed uterine fibroids more often.
Fibroids are tumors that grow in the uterus in women of childbearing age. Their growth is dependent on estrogen production. Research suggest they occur several (up to nine) times more often in African women than european women. Uterine fibroids are the single most common indication for hysterectomy. Up to half of women with fibroids have no symptoms until between the ages of 30 and 50 years
depending on their size, position and condition.
The Dependency of African Women On Hair Relaxers is Truly Worrisome
A History of Black Hair From the 1400s to Present
1444: Europeans trade on the west coast of Africa with people wearing elaborate hairstyles, including locks, plaits and twists.
1619: First slaves brought to Jamestown; African language, culture and grooming tradition begin to disappear.
1700s: Calling black hair “wool,” many whites dehumanize slaves. The more elaborate African hairstyles cannot be retained.
1800s: Without the combs and herbal treatments used in Africa, slaves rely on bacon grease, butter and kerosene as hair conditioners and cleaners. Lighter-skinned, straight-haired slaves command higher prices at auction than darker, more kinky-haired ones. Internalizing color consciousness, blacks promote the idea that blacks with dark skin and kinky hair are less attractive and worth less.
1865: Slavery ends, but whites look upon black women who style their hair like white women as well-adjusted. “Good” hair becomes a prerequisite for entering certain schools, churches, social groups and business networks.
1880: Metal hot combs, invented in 1845 by the French, are readily available in the United States. The comb is heated and used to press and temporarily straighten kinky hair.
1900s: Madame C.J. Walker develops a range of hair-care products for black hair. She popularizes the press-and-curl style. Some criticize her for encouraging black women to look white.
1910: Walker is featured in the Guinness Book of Records as the first American female self-made millionaire.
1920s: Marcus Garvey, a black nationalist, urges followers to embrace their natural hair and reclaim an African aesthetic.
1954: George E. Johnson launches the Johnson Products Empire with Ultra Wave Hair Culture, a “permanent” hair straightener for men that can be applied at home. A women’s chemical straightener follows.