RSD Attorney, Colette McEldowney, Quoted in Forbes

In a recent Forbes article, RSD attorney, Colette McEldowney, provided key legal insights into the ongoing debate surrounding hair relaxers and their potential link to cancer. The article highlights two pivotal studies: the Black Women Health Study and the Sister Study, both of which have stirred significant discussion regarding the safety of hair relaxers.

The Black Women Health Study, initiated in 1995, tracks the health of 59,000 Black women, gathering data biennially about their medical histories, lifestyles, and product use, including hair products. The study, led by Dr. Kimberly Bertrand, found that women using hair relaxers more than twice a year or for more than five years had a more than 50% increase in the risk of developing uterine cancer post-menopause. Dr. Bertrand emphasizes the importance of understanding the difference between relative risk and absolute risk, noting that while the relative increase is significant, the absolute risk remains low due to the overall rarity of uterine cancer.

The Sister Study, which began in 2003, follows 50,000 women who have a sister diagnosed with breast cancer to investigate the genetic and environmental factors contributing to cancer. Unlike the Black Women Health Study, this study includes a broader demographic, with 86% white participants and only 7% Black participants. The study did not specifically ask about relaxer use but included general questions about hair product use in the past year. Findings indicated that frequent use of hair straightening products, including relaxers, was linked to a twofold increase in uterine cancer risk by age 70.

RSD Attorney Colette McEldowney

Rueb Stoller Daniel attorney, Colette McEldowney‘s contribution to the discussion focuses on the legal aspects for consumers affected by these products. She explains that patients seeking legal redress do not necessarily need documented proof of purchase for every transaction related to hair relaxers. Instead, an affidavit confirming product use, along with formal medical records establishing a cancer diagnosis, suffices for legal action. This approach simplifies the process for potential plaintiffs, emphasizing the importance of their testimony in legal proceedings.

Rueb Stoller Daniel Attorney, Colette McEldowney

Both studies underscore the need for further research to definitively determine causation rather than mere association. Critics of the studies, including Dr. Kemi Doll and Dr. Sharon Malone, point out limitations such as recall bias and the inherent challenges of survey-based research. Moreover, Dr. Malone highlights a critical oversight in the research narrative, which often groups various hair products together without distinguishing between different chemicals and application techniques.

The article concludes by reflecting on the broader implications of hair product use, particularly among Black women, who are increasingly choosing natural hairstyles over chemical relaxers. However, this shift has not correlated with a decrease in uterine cancer rates, suggesting that other environmental and genetic factors may also play significant roles.

Attorney McEldowney’s insights provide a crucial legal perspective on the issue, reminding consumers of their rights and the potential for legal recourse. This raises broader questions about product safety and manufacturer transparency, urging a cautious approach to personal care products and their long-term health implications.