Che-Jung Chang, PhD, Katie M O’Brien, PhD, Alexander P Keil, PhD, Symielle A Gaston, PhD, Chandra L Jackson, PhD, Dale P Sandler, PhD, Alexandra J White, PhD, MSPH
Hair products may contain hazardous chemicals with endocrine-disrupting and carcinogenic properties. Previous studies have found hair product use to be associated with a higher risk of hormone-sensitive cancers including breast and ovarian cancer; however, to our knowledge, no previous study has investigated the relationship with uterine cancer.
We examined associations between hair product use and incident uterine cancer among 33 947 Sister Study participants aged 35-74 years who had a uterus at enrollment (2003-2009). In baseline questionnaires, participants in this large, racially and ethnically diverse prospective cohort self-reported their use of hair products in the prior 12 months, including hair dyes; straighteners, relaxers, or pressing products; and permanents or body waves. We estimated adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) to quantify associations between hair product use and uterine cancer using Cox proportional hazard models. All statistical tests were 2-sided.
Over an average of 10.9 years of follow-up, 378 uterine cancer cases were identified. Ever vs never use of straightening products in the previous 12 months was associated with higher incident uterine cancer rates (HR = 1.80, 95% CI = 1.12 to 2.88). The association was stronger when comparing frequent use (>4 times in the past 12 months) vs never use (HR = 2.55, 95% CI = 1.46 to 4.45; Ptrend = .002). Use of other hair products, including dyes and permanents or body waves, was not associated with incident uterine cancer.
These findings are the first epidemiologic evidence of association between use of straightening products and uterine cancer. More research is warranted to replicate our findings in other settings and to identify specific chemicals driving this observed association.