For years women have been perming our hair without much thought to what the chemicals did to our bodies. While some black women have decided to give up the “creamy crack” because of the damage its done to their tresses, a pair of new studies could cause others to forgo their next touch up.

According to researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, women who used childhood hair products, such as perms and “hair oil”, were much more likely to reach puberty before those who did not.

The study recruited 300 women from various ethnic backgrounds between the ages of 18-77.  Researchers then asked the group why type of hair products they used before age 13. What they found was interesting. According to the numbers, “African-Americans were more likely to use hair products and reached menarche earlier than other racial/ethnic groups.”

In another study, researchers at the Slone Epidemiology Center in Boston also found that black women who used relaxers have a higher risk of uterine leiomyomata, or fibroids.

While both studies showed links between relaxers and other health issues in black women, doctors believe that more research is needed on these topics. However, these studies, again remind us that we have to be vigilant about what goes in and on our bodies.

How do you decide what hair products you use? 

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  • Love my Natural

    I began going natural about two years ago. I was motivated by a statement my mom made to me. She said, if you can’t consume it, than you shouldn’t put it on your skin. After thinking about how relaxers make my head itch, burn my scalp, and the potent smell immediately after my hair is permed, I realized that this has to be affecting my health. I don’t need science to prove that – my god given instincts informed me. Also, I realized that hair relaxers is a multi-trillion dollar business. So, why would anyone come out with a study proving its link to other health issues like cancer. Just like cigarette smoking, it took someone from the inside to come clean, and despite its strong link to lung cancer, people still smoke. I work in corporate America and wear my Afro proud. The country is evolving and becoming more accepting of other cultural make-ups. We (the black community) are demonizing ourselves; therefore, it is completely within our control to change it.

    • Jenny M.

      So if you can’t consume it then you shouldn’t use it… Does that mean you don’t use deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, make up, lotion… the list goes on.

    • yes, jenny. that shd be tru 2. baking soda, olive oil, borax, lemon juice, peroxide and apple cider vinegar are all consumables that can be used as cleaning products or cosmetics. you would be surprised at the known toxins in toothpaste, deodorant, etc. we also need to realize that our body functions are completely natural and b4 the chemical invasion, there were completely natural and non-life threatening ways to manage them. also, eating better minimizes the need for these product because the body can self-detoxify better.

  • Sarah Joe

    This is an interesting observation however, more research or evidence are needed to validate these claims. Black women in the US are one of the groups of individuals with a prevalence of obesity and obesity related disorders or other factors could also contribute to this connection between using relaxers and early menarche etc. Apart from the color of their skin we don’t know from this article the health status of these women so we should say their seem to be a correlation or a connection but saying that perming your hair causes such things is too far-stretched based on evidence. Also the firbroids etc are all related to inflammatory origins which is prevalent among populations who are overweight/obese or at risk for this

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  • Echi

    Direct quote from the original paper, “Anthropometric and other childhood factors were not collected in this study.” In other words, they did not take into account the child’s weight, the age at which the mother menstruated, etc. It’s a well known fact that AA women menstruate earlier than others. It’s a well known fact that weight, location, mother’s age at menses contribute to this. To not account for this in the study leads to inaccurate results. That may not have been the intention of the researchers, but when popular media enters the realm of science, all sorts of issues pop up.
    As someone who sports dreadlocks and loose natural hair prior to that, I’m team natural all the way and I’m glad that I no longer use hair relaxers. However, fighting against the use of hair relaxers and oils with faulty data helps no one.

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