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L’Oréal Uterine Cancer Lawsuits

Many women use hair relaxer products, and some use them on a regular basis. In mid-October of this year, a study was released illustrating the connection between using these hair products and subsequently receiving a uterine cancer diagnosis.

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On October 21, 2022, plaintiff Jenny Mitchell filed a lawsuit against L’Oréal and other hair care companies, arguing that their hair relaxer products caused her to develop uterine cancer. Her claims include negligence, fraud, and manufacturing and design defects.

Other lawsuits were filed after Mitchell, all with similar claims.

L’Oréal was named as a defendant in all of the cases. Other companies named in the lawsuits include the following:

  • Dabur International
  • Godrej
  • Namaste
  • Parfums de Coeur
  • PDC Brands
  • Soft Sheen/Carson
  • Strength of Nature Global

Plaintiffs indicated that they used Dark & Lovely, Olive Oil Girls, Optimum, Just for Me, Soft & Beautiful, and Motions.

L’Oréal Uterine Cancer Lawsuit Overview

Here is an overview of some of the cases pending in various district courts since October 2022. All women reportedly used the hair relaxer products for decades, some for 30 years.

Plaintiff

Complaint

Date Filed

District Court Filed

Mitchell

Uterine cancer & hysterectomy

October 21, 2022

Northern District of Illinois

Bhonopha

Uterine fibroids

October 21, 2022

Northern District of California

Gamble

Uterine fibroids, endometriosis, & ovarian cyst

October 26, 2022

Southern District of Georgia

Lee

Uterine fibroids & hysterectomy

October 27, 2022

Southern District of Georgia

Smith

Uterine cancer, endometriosis, & hysterectomy

November 2, 2022

Northern District of Illinois

The plaintiffs maintain they had no knowledge of the harmful effects of the hair relaxer products. They demand jury trials and seek compensatory and punitive damages, as well as reimbursement of legal fees.

In response to the lawsuits, L’Oréal issued the following statement:

“Our highest priority is the health, wellness and safety of all our consumers. We are confident in the safety of our products and believe the recent lawsuits filed against us have no legal merit. L’Oréal upholds the highest standards of safety for all its products. Our products are subject to a rigorous scientific evaluation of their safety by experts who also ensure that we follow strictly all regulations in every market in which we operate.” 

Other lawsuits are expected to be filed as the situation unfolds.

Study Shows Link Between L’oréal Hair Straightening Product and Uterine Cancer

Medical studies have found evidence suggesting that the chemicals in hair straightening products increase the risk that a woman will develop uterine cancer. In October 2022, epidemiology experts from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences concluded, “In this large, prospective cohort study, we observed that straightening product use was positively associated with uterine cancer.

The study included almost 34,000 participants between the ages of 35 and 74. The study lasted an average of 10.9 years, and during that time, 378 uterine cancer diagnoses were reported.

Uterine cancer diagnoses were higher in women who had used hair straightening products than in women who had not used hair straightening products.

The study found that 1.64 percent of women who never used hair relaxer products would develop uterine cancer by 70 years of age. Women who frequently used the products had a 2.41 percent higher risk than women who had never used the products.

Doctor speaking to patient about cancer from hair products

What Is Uterine Cancer?

In 2022, 1.9 million people are expected to be diagnosed with cancer in the United States. Uterine cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women after breast cancer, lung and bronchus cancer, and colorectal cancer. Uterine cancer is an uncontrollable growth of cells (cancer) in the uterus. It usually affects older women who have been through menopause.

Uterine cancer is the most common type of reproductive cancer for women. Three percent of women are diagnosed with uterine cancer during their lifetime.

The American Cancer Society estimates that 65,950 new cases of uterine cancer will be diagnosed in 2022, with 12,550 women dying from it. 

There are two types of uterine cancer

  • Endometrial cancer develops in the endometrium (the lining of the uterus) and accounts for over 90 percent of uterine cancers.
  • Uterine sarcoma is a rare and aggressive cancer that develops in the muscle (myometrium) of the uterus.

The survival rate for endometrial cancer is 81 percent, and it can reach 95 percent if it does not spread. Once cancer spreads, the survival rate decreases to 17 percent.

Dangerous Chemicals in L’Oréal Hair Products

Hair relaxers or hair straighteners are common beauty products used to straighten extremely curly or wavy hair by loosening the curls with chemicals. The chemicals in these hair products are known to be dangerous.

The endocrine system controls brain and reproductive growth and produces and stores hormones. It regulates body functions and helps the body achieve homeostasis.  

This group of L’Oréal’s hair products contains chemicals called phthalates. Phthalates are endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs). They affect the body’s endocrine system and interfere with its operations.

  • Neurological and behavioral functions
  • Ability to cope with stress
  • Metabolism
  • Reproductive hormones
  • Fertility
  • Cardiovascular system
  • Growth and development
  • Immune system
  • Cancer

One of the phthalates used in hair relaxers is Di-2-ethyl hexyl phthalate (DEHP). This chemical is artificially made and is considered toxic. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry lists DEHP on its toxic substances portal. It states that DEHP affects both the immune system and the reproductive system. 

Speak with a Lawyer to Learn More About Your Rights

Plaintiffs maintain that L’Oréal and other companies that manufacture the hair straighteners knew or should have known of the danger their products posed to consumers. This knowledge forms the basis of over a dozen claims, including:

  • Failure to warn and negligent failure to warn of the damage to the hair relaxers 
  • Design and/or manufacturing defects and negligent design and/or manufacturing defects 
  • Negligent and/or grossly negligent
  • Negligent misrepresentation
  • Fraud and fraudulent concealment
  • Breach of express and implied warranties
  • Failure to recall and failure to medically monitor
  • Breach of various state laws

These are complex litigation claims. An experienced lawyer will be able to analyze the facts to determine whether the claims are viable.

As of November 2022, a class action has not been initiated against L’Oréal and the other hair companies. There have been a few cases brought in district courts across the country, alleging the above claims. 

Contact the Team at Meirowitz & Wasserberg

If you have used hair relaxers and have subsequently been diagnosed with uterine cancer, you should contact a law firm to discuss your options. Our leading legal team at Meirowitz and Wasserberg is fully dedicated to the exceptional representation of our clients in building, negotiating, and litigating their cases.

We pride ourselves in the care we have for our clients. We work diligently and will not stop fighting to promote justice and protect your rights. If you or a loved one was diagnosed with uterine cancer after using hair relaxers, contact us today for a free consultation to determine your legal options. 

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