Women who use hair straighteners and chemical hair relaxers may have a higher risk of uterine cancer, according to a new study from researchers at the US National Institutes of Health (NIH). The study findings were published on October 17, 2022, in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. They are now able to file toxic exposure claims against the manufacturers of these products.
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Toxic exposure personal injury claims
My guest today is Jennifer Poole is the Director of Marketing at the California Law Firm of Nadrich & Cohen. Nadrich & Cohen was founded in 1990 and has since expanded to 14 offices throughout California. The firm handles all types of injury, defective product, and toxic exposure claims on behalf of individuals and their families.
Ms. Poole has worked at the law firm since 2009 right after she graduated from Hofstra Law. She has quite literally lived from coast-to-coast and calls Los Angeles home.
Myrna: As a black woman I have used, hair straitening products, for over 30 years. I don’t use them a lot now because, I started wearing wigs and weaving my hair, but normally, the black population wants straighter hair. Relaxing black curly hair makes it easier for us to handle. In the 60’s even the men relaxed their hair, we go back to movies like Malcolm X, and see him using hair, straightening products called conk. Can you tell what is the data that says these products cause cancer.
I’m not sure if Caucasian people use, hair straighteners, or it predominantly used in the, black community?
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Hair relaxers called hair straighteners called perms
Jennifer: Yes, I would say so. We’ve used you know, several different terms to describe these products. So, you know, hair relaxers, and, hair straighteners, and we’ve even had a couple of clients that refer to it as a, perm, of sorts. But these products are predominately used in the, black community.
Myrna: Yes the Caucasian population used, perms, to curl up the hair. So, talk to us about that was the link to, uterine cancer. I guess we’re doing a total Erin Brockovich here.
Jennifer: Yes, Erin Brockovich was a fantastic film. And also, before I launch into it, you mentioned, Malcolm X, and when we started this project, I immediately thought of that film, with Denzel Washington, sitting in the chair, and just how awfully painful that was to try to straighten his hair.
Myrna: I thought of this film myself even though I have gone through the same pain straightening my own hair.
Jennifer: And on a side note, do you know what also came up? I thought about a book that I read in college, which was Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, and we all love it too. Right? And we always want something that we don’t have! I have straight hair, my mom permed my hair, so it could become curly.
I remember sitting in the beauty shop and I go in with my hair, one length and I come out with it three inches shorter because of the curls. We all want what we don’t have. You know, there’s some truth to that certainly, but back to your question.
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Studies that link hair relaxers to uterine cancer
There are studies which have linked a 2.5 times increased risk of developing, uterine cancer, among those that use, hair relaxer products. And so, as you can well imagine, that primarily affects black and brown populations. That’s who use these products. And so, there’s also linkage to, ovarian cancer, and, endometrial cancer, and less severe but still painful, uterine fibroids. We can make a claim if the, uterine fibroids, resulted in surgery like, hysterectomy
Myrna: That is terrible, I’ve heard I had heard rumors of this for a while now. When I say rumors, you know that we’re talking social media. But, now that we’re getting data, it’s not it’s not hearsay anymore. So, what are the products that that are causing these, uterine cancers, that is in these, hair relaxers, products? There are the new, hair relaxers, that are “No LYE”. Are these the safer products?
Jennifer: Well, there’s all kinds of chemicals which have been found in these types of products, even including Brazilian blowouts, including formaldehyde, you can think about that. There are so many chemicals that are toxic, that are used in these products. And, you know, the variety of brands, certainly people that have the market share. I think everyone’s familiar with Dark and Lovely, right. It’s a huge brand. And so, with these products manufacturers continued to add these chemicals.
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There are no natural chemical relaxers
A lot of hair relaxers products, are coming to market that are more quote unquote natural. Even still, I’m not saying they have the same toxic chemicals, but they’re still not natural. They carry a lot of toxic chemicals. One of the things that I’d like to mention is you know, the FDA doesn’t test these products before going to market, yet they are in charge of policing, hair products.
The goal is of this litigation is to affect change. That’s always what we try to do. Where a governmental agency fails us, the legal team’s step in a try to right wrongs, but be also affect long lasting change. And we’ve seen it time and again. And so that’s always the goal with this type of litigation.
Myrna: Yeah, that’s great. So, a lot of times things start from one person, like the Erin Brockovich film, she saw something unusual so she investigated it. So, is this lawsuit going on now because someone has won a case and now everybody is filing claims? Was somebody able to connect, hair relaxer products, with, uterine cancer, and win a large settlement?
Jennifer: Let me explain a little bit about how the process works. There’s something called, multi district litigation, and it’s called MDL in legal parlance, and what happens is you’ll have a new case type like, hair relaxers. There are no cases that have been won as of yet. But what happens is lawyers start taking on cases and then there will be what are called Bellwether trials, and I always compare those to you go out to the pool, you want to see if it’s warm, you dip your foot in there.
And then based on how those Bellwether trials go, then that can often bring the defendants of these, hair relaxer manufacturers, to the negotiating table. And that’s really kind of the process and I do want to clarify for your readers, that this is not a class action suit.
This is not a class action lawsuit
A class action suit is you know, we all get those postcards in the mail. You’ve been overcharged for phone service, and guess what you’re gonna get a nickel. Yeah, or even worse, you had a bad experience with the business, they’re gonna offer you a credit or a gift card so you can go back and use their services. But people take a very cynical view of class actions, but this litigation is different. Again, it’s, multi district litigation. And the reason that exists is there are not enough courtrooms in America to allow for a trial for each and every case there’s just not.
So, what happens is both parties come together, and they come up with some ground rules. Some rules for discovery, and how things will proceed. And that just streamlines the process. So that’s actually beneficial for plaintiffs in litigations these because it speeds it along, allows them to see a settlement, sooner rather than later. I just I wanted to clarify that process a little bit. So no, there have not been any trials as of yet. It’s really more what’s prompting this litigation to move forward. Our studies, that have come out, science is improving all the time. And we learned about new things that we thought were safe.
Myrna: That’s it. Yeah, that’s why it’s often somebody identified that those products cause, uterine cancer, and now they’ve just got to put it together. I know that 90% of black women have used, hair relaxers, at one point in their life and if they are reading this and have been diagnosed with, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, or uterine fibroids, that they will contact you and get a claim going.
Myrna: So your company are helping you know women and men, I’m assuming only women because it’s, uterine cancer. So your Law Firm is helping women submit claims. So how can someone reading this blog, if they have realistic claim for any of the illnesses we mentioned contact you. What is the first step, what do they do?
How to start the claim process
Jennifer: We do represent some men who they’re unfortunately widowers, they lost their wife to, uterine cancer. And also, of course, male children. We do represent them as well. But yes, we primarily work with women, the client base is female, and we are accepting cases with, uterine cancer, diagnosis. Ovarian cancer, endometrial cancer, and then lastly, certain, uterine fibroid, cases where there’s actually surgical intervention. If it requires a surgery, it’s a little more invasive than some of the other, uterine fibroid, treatments but that’s for us to make a decision on on a case by case basis.
So if one of your readers was thinking that they may qualify, the first step would be to reach out to us or another law firm and request that free consultation because in this industry, I always say we give every man and every woman keys to the courthouse and how do we do that? Contingency fees? We don’t collect a fee unless a recovery is made. Because let me tell you, if we had to charge up front, we wouldn’t have any clients.
So many people in this country live paycheck to paycheck. So this model of representation, gives everybody an equal playing field and keys to the courthouse; so that would really be the first step. Is to reach out to us or another law firm and and get the free consultation and find out if you qualify,
Filing a claim for toxic exposure from Hair Relaxers and Hair Straightening Products
We would ask a really a series of questions. We have to get medical records, documents confirming the, uterine cancer, diagnosis sometimes, or, ovarian cancer, or, uterine fibroid, diagnosis. Sometimes, clients have those documents readily available, most don’t. And so that’s the process. If they hire us then we would request the medical records that document all of the treatment that they had to have, that obviously adds value to the claimants, chemo is not fun.
Myrna: How do you make the connection between the, uterine cancer, and the chemical hair relaxers product?
Jennifer: Oh, yes. We would ask them to give us the history of hair relaxers product use. If they can remember the products, because there are so many out there. We asked about about 20 different products, that have the lion’s share of the market. Assuredly, they used at least one of them.
And then typically, women will use these hair relaxers about four plus times a year, that increases the exposure and therefore, our ability to link the hair relaxer product to cancer. But it’s true, possibly signing an affidavit stating that yes, I use this product. I used it this many times a year. Kind of documenting that way. Haven’t had it yet, but in other litigations, people will still had product packaging around the house. We have an evidence locker here that stores those products. I have not had that happen yet in this litigation. I think by nature of the product, you use it and throw it out.
Myrna: Well, you can be still using it to be quite honest. But yeah, one of the things about, hair relaxers, is that once you open it, it loses its potency so you have to throw it out. But black women can be listening to this interview right now who are still using chemical hair relaxers because they weren’t aware that there was anything wrong with them. Very few women go around with their natural hair. It’s a very small percentage, so they’re still using it.
How to connect with Nadrich & Cohen Personal Injury Lawyers
So, probably the best way would be to call me and that is 1-800-718-4658. You could also email me JPoole@ personalinjurylawcal.com. You can also head over to www.personalinjurylawcal.com. We have multiple blog posts, pages, lots of information there.
Chapter 2-0700 Establishing Toxic Substance Exposure