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FDA Plans to Issue a Ban on Hair-Straightening Products That Contain Potentially Cancer-Causing Chemicals

People who straighten their hair may need to choose new products after a proposed FDA ruling goes into effect.

The new action takes aim specifically at hair-straightening products that contain formaldehyde as well as a series of other chemicals that release formaldehyde, such as methylene and glycol, according to information filed in the Unified Agenda, which is utilized by the agency to track its upcoming motions.

Scientists have long identified formaldehyde as a potentially hazardous chemical to humans, with a study emerging in 2019 that it is linked to breast cancer, per the International Journal of Cancer

That was substantiated in 2022, when a link was found between formaldehyde in hair straightening products and uterine cancer, according to the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Out of 34,000 women in the United States ages 35 to 74 who were included as a part of the uterine cancer study, there was a notably higher incident uterine cancer rate among women who used hair-straightening products in the past 12 months as opposed to those who did not.

Furthermore, the study noted that women over the age of 70 who used hair-straightening products in the past 12 months had a 4% risk of developing uterine cancer, where women over 70 who did not use the products had a 1.6% risk.

The effects of formaldehyde in hair-straightening products are particularly notable among Black women, who are disproportionately sold products with these kinds of chemicals present, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Their research claims that 50% of hair-straightening products advertised to Black women contain potentially hazardous chemicals. Conversely, the school found that only 7% of products targeted towards White women contain the same chemicals.

On Mar. 15, 2023, Reps. Ayanna Pressley, D-Massachusetts, and Shontel Brown, D-Ohio, wrote an open letter to FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf requesting “a thorough and transparent investigation to determine whether publicly available chemical hair straightening products contain carcinogens that lead to a higher risk of uterine cancer.”

In the wake of news of the proposed ruling being released, Pressley penned a news release on her website commending the FDA for taking action.

“I applaud the FDA for being responsive to our calls and advancing a rule that will help prevent manufacturers from making a profit at the expense of our health,” the representative said. “The Administration should finalize this rule without delay.”

Pressley particularly highlighted the aforementioned study regarding the products in question being targeted at Black women. She called the ruling a “win for public health” and “especially the health of Black women who are disproportionately put at risk by these products as a result of systemic racism and anti-Black hair sentiment.”

Although a record of a future ruling on the matter has been noted, the FDA still has steps to take before it can become official.

“Once we have issued a proposed rule and received and reviewed the public comments, we decide whether further action is needed,” the FDA states on its website of the ruling process. “Based on the comments, we might decide to end the rulemaking process, to issue a new proposed rule, or to issue a final rule. If we decide to issue a final rule, we publish the final rule in the Federal Register.”

Source : People

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