New research has revealed that using chemical hair straighteners was related to a slightly decreased chances of pregnancy. According to the study, black or Hispanic people tend to use these products more frequently and start doing so when they are very young to follow the trend for straight hair, so their results “could be particularly interesting for them,” he highlighted. Che-Jung Chang, co-author of the work. In fact, around 60% of women who reported using hair straightening products in the past year said they were black.
Led by the School of Public Health, the study found that Black, Hispanic, and mixed-race people were more likely to use hair straighteners, and therefore also more likely to be exposed to the toxic chemicals. containing these products. Current and past use of hair straighteners, increased frequency and duration of use, as well as having suffered repeated scalp burns because of these products, they were also associated with a lower chance of becoming pregnant.
Beauty products that affect fertility
The conclusions of the study have been published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, and add to other evidence that has linked the reproductive problems with exposure to toxic chemicals from which some beauty products are made and which disrupt the endocrine system (endocrine disruptors). An example of these substances that can negatively affect fertility are phthalateslos phenols and the parabens are some of the chemicals in relaxers that can contribute to reduced fertility.
“Our work underscores the importance of expanding research on the effects of beauty product use on reproductive health to promote environmental justice and increase health equity”
The researchers caution that the full set of ingredients is often not listed on the product label and more data is needed to better understand the specific mechanisms by which relaxers may affect fertility. However, the study underscores racial disparities in exposure to toxic beauty care chemicals and their adverse health consequences. Societal pressure to conform to Eurocentric beauty norms contributes to a disproportionate use of these toxic beauty products by people who do not meet the standards.
“Our work underscores the importance of expanding research on the effects of beauty product use on reproductive health to promote environmental justice and increase health equity,” says study lead author Lauren Wise, professor of epidemiology. in BUSPH.
The researchers analyzed data from surveys on various aspects of hair straightener use conducted among 11,274 women, which provided information on various aspects of hair straightener use between 2014 and 2022. The results showed that fertility rates were lower among participants who used relaxers for at least 10 years, or at least five times a year, but the study results did not show clear patterns of dose response for either association.