Until now, the debate between black women who chemically relax their hair and those who think doing so is problematic has been mostly social and emotional. But concerns about physical health might also come into play. A new study in the American Journal of Epidemiology has linked perms to early-onset puberty and worse — uterine fibroid tumors.
While a direct cause-and-effect relationship hasn't been established, the research could begin to explain why black women have two to three times higher rates of fibroids than their counterparts of other races.
BET News reports:
Scientists followed more than 23,000 pre-menopausal Black American women from 1997 to 2009 and found that the two- to three-times higher rate of fibroids among black women may be linked to chemical exposure through scalp lesions and burns resulting from relaxers.
Women who got their first menstrual period before the age of 10 were also more likely to have uterine fibroids, and early menstruation may result from hair products black girls are using, according to a separate study published in the Annals of Epidemiology last summer.
Three hundred African American, African Caribbean, Hispanic, and White women in New York City were studied. The women’s first menstrual period varied anywhere from age 8 to age 19, but African Americans, who were more likely to use straightening and relaxers hair oils, also reached menarche earlier than other racial/ethnic groups.
Read more at BET News.