Experts do not know exactly what causes uterine fibroids or why African American women are three times more likely to experience fibroids, and from an earlier age than their Caucasian counterparts. They are aware of some solid links between certain factors and the development of myomas, and there are also some suspected links; one such link is one between chemical hair relaxers and fibroids. Your hair care routine could be compromising your health.
What Are Uterine Fibroids?
Uterine fibroids also known as leiomyomas or myomas are noncancerous growths that develop in and around the uterus. The statistics of fibroid occurrence in women are insanely high, reporting that more than 70 percent of Caucasian women and 84% of African American women experience uterine fibroids during their lifetimes.
Some women never experience symptoms related to their fibroids while others live with disruptions to their normal routines and symptoms that diminish their quality of life. Symptoms like heavy and prolonged bleeding, pelvic pain and pressure, back and leg pain, abdominal bloating, pain during sex, and even fertility issues.
Could Chemical Relaxers and Hair Products Be Giving You Fibroids?
Considering the significant number of women who are diagnosed with fibroids by the age of 49, one might ask the question, “Why is there not more research being done to find out what causes fibroids?” Furthermore, “Why are the results of research that has been done not being communicated broadly to American women?”
While much is unknown about fibroids and their origin, experts have determined that elevated levels of estrogen contribute to the growth and development of fibroids. Some other patterns that have been identified that may influence myomas development include:
- Age – fibroids occur most often in women between the ages of 30 and 40.
- Early-onset of the menstrual cycle – the younger a woman starts getting her period, the more likely she will experience fibroids.
- Genetics – family history is linked with leiomyoma development.
- Race – African American women experience higher instances of fibroid development and from younger ages.
- Lifestyle – obesity, high blood pressure, and estrogen exposure contribute to the risk of fibroid occurrence. Ingredients contained in beauty products and hair care products have been linked to estrogen-related women’s diseases such as cancer. Uterine fibroids are also considered an estrogen-related condition.
Estrogen and Fibroids
Now, let’s take a closer look at estrogen and how it plays a part in fibroid development. Estrogen is a hormone that naturally occurs in a woman’s body and we know for certain that uterine fibroids like and thrive on estrogen and their growth is directly related to the amount of estrogen they are exposed to.
There can be natural malfunctions within our body’s own estrogen production mechanisms. However, it is also possible that outside influences may affect estrogen levels and fibroid growth. Much of the food we eat and the products we use are laden with artificial estrogen or additives that directly influence our body’s natural estrogen. A study published by the U.S Department of Veteran Affairs concluded that a healthy estrogen balance is critical to a woman’s health.
In recent years the amount of estrogen exposure within the American population has risen to record highs and with it the occurrence of estrogen-related cancers such as breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and uterine cancer. A recent study identified at least 296 chemicals that cause increases in E2 estrogen levels – this is the strongest estrogen and is normally produced by the ovaries.
Can Hair Care Products Cause Fibroids?
The products we use on our hair and skin are eventually absorbed into our bloodstream so it is increasingly important that we thoroughly screen these things. Many people think that all the cosmetics, lotions, and hair care products that are on the market have FDA approval and are deemed safe for use. It may surprise you to know that the law only regulates color additives and states that products cannot be “misbranded or adulterated”, there are no other requirements related to ingredients.
The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and National Institutes of Health funded a study that discussed endocrine disruptors that are contained in many beauty and personal or hair care products. Ingredients that have been identified include chemicals like parabens, phenols, toxic metals, and phthalates that disrupt the natural hormone systems in the body and can result in estrogen dominance.
The bottom line is that unregulated hair care products could contain ingredients that interrupt a woman’s natural estrogen balance and lead to the development of rapid growth of fibroids.
Hair Relaxers and Their Link to Fibroids
There have been a few studies that looked at the use of hair relaxers and their link to the occurrence of myomas. The studies all report that:
- African American women have a higher instance of fibroid occurrence than Caucasian women.
- African American women make up the majority of the female population who use hair relaxers and normally, their mothers begin using them on their hair when they are young.
- African American women statistically present with leiomyomas at younger ages.
Connecting all the dots, one could conclude that among several other beauty and personal care products that are laden with ingredients that disrupt and alter natural estrogen levels, there is a suspected link between hair relaxers and fibroids.
If you suffer from uterine fibroids and are ready for relief from their associated symptoms, contact the Atlanta Fibroid Center® today for a consultation. We would welcome the opportunity to answer any questions you may have and to also tell you about a very effective non-surgical treatment for fibroids that takes only 45 minutes in the hands of our experts!
Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) is a minimally invasive procedure that is 90% effective in eliminating all types and sizes of fibroids with only a 5-7 day recovery time. You can be fibroid free without surgery. Contact us today to learn more!